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Local writers pay tribute to Elmore Leonard

Local crime and suspense writers mourned their hero Elmore Leonard on Tuesday. Shortly after the death of the 87-year-old “Get Shorty” author was confirmed on his website, Channel 7 reporter and crime writer Hank Phillippi Ryan told us that Leonard was a great mentor to her, even though he didn’t know it. “I hope he realized how beloved and revered he is.” Local suspense writer Hallie Ephron (inset top) told us, “Elmore Leonard was brilliant without being flashy. His heroes were often crooks, con men, and misfits that you ended up rooting for. His dialogue was legendary. It feels effortless, like he’s shooting the breeze with his characters and not taking the whole undertaking too seriously.” Boston’s Joe Finder, author of “Paranoia,” took to Twitter to say, “Oh, Elmore Leonard. Rest in peace, sir. A wonderful writer, a wonderful man. I miss you already.” And best-selling novelist Dennis Lehane, (inset bottom) of “Live By Night” and “Shutter Island,” posted this note on Facebook: “Elmore Leonard has left us, which sucks. One of the biggest influences on my own work, if not the biggest. . . . When it came to writing dialogue, he sat on the mountaintop while the rest of us wandered in the valley. He’s truly irreplaceable, and the world is poorer for his leaving it.” Lehane also told us via e-mail that he hung out with Leonard twice — once in a bar in Chicago and once in Italy. “Both times I was struck by what a dude he was,” Lehane said. “He was a just a cool [expletive] cat. Cooler than almost anyone I’ve ever met. Fonzie-level cool.”