"Elmore Leonard is a tough act to follow, but son Peter is off to a terrific start... Clearly, great storytelling runs in the Leonard family's DNA."
-- Carl Hiaasen
Peter Leonard is the acclaimed author of the suspense thrillers Quiver, Trust Me, and All He Saw Was the Girl. A former advertising executive, in mid-life he decided to follow in the legendary footsteps of Elmore Leonard. Elmore also happens to be his father. The two of them have taken the Leonard act on the road, giving talks they call "The Family Business". They are ideal headliner and keynote speakers for book festivals, libraries, colleges, and at select corporate functions.
Their events are the rare opportunity to interact with the grandmaster of crime writing and his literal "heir apparent". In their spirited, spontaneous, and entertaining events they cover everything from Elmore's famous "Ten Rules of Writing," how they "audition characters", fascinating crime research with the Detroit Police Homicide, ideas and inspiration, writers who have influenced them, the process of writing, to Hollywood stories about such luminaries as George Clooney, John Travolta, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Burt Reynolds, and Charles Bronson.
Clearly, writing is in the Leonard genes and comparisons of Peter's work to Elmore's are inevitable, but as critics have repeatedly raved, Peter's work stands on its own. In fact, they've had a similar career path, transposed. Elmore spent his early years in advertising, and Peter left a 25-year advertising career to become a novelist. Peter did try writing fresh out of college and when he asked his father for feedback he received a three-page critique that pointed out, among other problems, that Peter's characters came across "like strips of leather drying in the sun." Peter didn't write another word of fiction for 27 years. Truth is life happened. He launched his own advertising business, married, had kids, and the next thing he knew, it was 25 years later.
"I remember at times leaving my office after having come back from a meeting at Volkswagen or Audi and I'd be wearing gray pants and a blazer and a tie," says Peter. "I'd stop over and see Elmore and he would be wearing jeans and sandals and a Nine Inch Nails T-shirt. In the background you could see the pool and the tennis court, and I'd be like, 'This guy has got it. He's got it all." So at 50, he wrote an "audition" novel followed by Quiver. Published to critical acclaim in the U.S. and the U.K., it was followed by Trust Me and All He Saw Was the Girl. Adios advertising job.
"I don't remember what was in the three-page letter," Elmore says. "I was glad a quarter-century later that he got back into it, and then with vigor and great expectations, and pulled it off."
Peter Leonard lives in Birmingham, Michigan.
Praise for Quiver:
"The best parts of the novel concern the crooks, who. . . are sometimes funny and sometimes scary."
-- Washington Post
"An outstanding debut. . . Leonard, the son of grandmaster mystery writer Elmore Leonard, deftly utilizes frequent flashback scenes in a tense tale that's easily one of the best crime novels of the year."
-- East Lansing Journal (Michigan)
"No surprise. . . Peter is Elmore's kid. The apple didn't fall far from the tree. . . A great deal of the book is so polished and cool that it has a kind of noir sheen."
-- Chicago Sun Times
"A strong debut that combines a tight plot (about a deadly double-cross in the woods of Michigan) with memorable characters and dialogue - come to think of it, not unlike what Leonard's father, Elmore Leonard, creates."
-- Seattle Times
"Quiver is a spectacular debut. . . With a large cast of characters - each presented as meticulously as an Andrew Wyeth portrait - and numerous points of view, all funneling inevitably to a stunning conclusion, you will be holding your breath until the final page. Peter's dad should be proud."
-- The New York Sun
"Leonard. . . Has inherited his father's plotting talents. . . [He] has written an accomplished nail-biter, a harbinger of even better stories to come."
-- Rocky Mountain News
"This debut effort by Peter Leonard, the son of Elmore, is fueled by the same raw staccato dialogue and desperately flawed characters that made his father the master of modern crime fiction. Reading Leonard is just as much fun as reading, well, Leonard."
-- Providence Journal
"Quiver is quite interesting, creating a spunky, believable heroine with an unusual background, realistic villains and a plot that could easily fit in the oeuvre of Elmore Lenard. Peter Leonard's energetic style makes one forget the name Elmore and concentrate on the Leonard. [He] shows that good writing may be in his genes, but the style's all his own."
-- South Florida Sun Sentinel
"I read an advance copy of Quiver, the debut novel from Elmore's son, Peter Leonard, and, what do you know, the apple did not fall far from the tree. Needless to say, I was very impressed with Peter's book, and recommend you look for it when it's published."
-- George Pelicanos
"Peter Leonard's first novel, Quiver, amply shows that he's the great Elmore's son. This book is a wicked trip with the creeps and pukes that inhabit the criminal world who collide with a convincing heroine. The setting in the rural north of Michigan is unique and engaging. I salute Peter Leonard at the beginning of what will obviously be a fine career."
-- Jim Harrison
"Quiver is a terrific debut. Peter Leonard has a good ear for voices, a good eye for detail, and a talent for bringing together elements that can't do anything but explode."
-- Edgar Award Winner Thomas Perry, author of Silence
"If the best of Tarantino, Carl Hiaasen and Scott Turow was shaken, given a jot of pure heart and put down on paper, then that would be Quiver. With cracking dialogue, characters nailed to perfection and breakneck pace, Peter Leonard is more than just his father's son. He is his very own writer and a huge talent."
-- Mo Hayder
"Quiver is good. It's really very good - with some cracking dialogue, clever plotting and an enjoyably bloody climax."
-- The Times (U.K.)
"[The] prose is clear, paunchy and free of what his father calls hootedoodle. His villains are so scuzzy. . . the story moves so quickly that there is no time for the novel to drag."
-- The Daily Telegraph (U.K.)
Praise for Trust Me:
"Elmore Leonard is a tough act to follow, but son Peter is off to a terrific start. Trust Me is fast, sly and full of twists. Clearly, great storytelling runs in the Leonard Family's DNA."
-- Carl Hiaasen
"Razor-sharp dialogue and a plot that races like a souped-up Mercury Cruiser; from turbocharged start to explosive finish. Brilliant!"
-- R.J. Ellory
"Trust Me is about gasping for air. Peter Leonard, like Leonard pere, depicts physical violence not so much in terms of sharp pain, and there's plenty of that to go round, as it is about controlling the flow of air to the solar plexus. Breathtaking is a reviewer's cliché. But it is simply the best way to describe the pace of Peter Leonard's latest offering."
-- The Washington Times
"So far, Trust Me ranks as the thriller of the year. Trust me."
-- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"As anyone who read his debut novel Quiver knows, Leonard really is the equal of his father, Elmore. Set, like Quiver, in Detroit, Trust Me is a knockout caper comedy, packed with unexpected twists, improbable entanglements and witty, paint-fresh dialogue you could read all day without getting bored."
-- The Guardian (U.K.)
"Leonard is starting to show some real individuality... he's crafted a pleasantly twisty thriller and a central character who could give Jackie Brown a run for her money... The plot is smooth and Leonard conveys the menace with assured ease. Promising."
-- Observer (U.K.)
"Is a talent for writing fast-paced, fiendishly plotted, action-packed thrillers, full of razor-sharp dialogue and populated by a brilliantly realized cast of schemers, gun-happy yahoos, murderous monsters and assorted rascals actually something you can inherit? In the case of Peter Leonard, son of the great Elmore... it surely is. Trust Me is the quick follow up to Leonard's racking debut, Quiver, which came out last year and it's in many ways the equal of any of his father's hard-boiled mid-period classics, which means it's fast, brutal and incomparably entertaining... Sensational."
-- Allan Jones Uncut
"With Trust Me the younger Leonard has given us a crackling tale - one that'll shove you down in your reading chair and strap you there until you're done."
-- STL Today
Praise for All He Saw Was the Girl:
"Lean and tight, All He Saw Was the Girl is one of those novels you don't read so much as glide through, grinning and snorting. Leonard has a well-tuned ear for random chatter and can capture a character in a single phrase."
-- The Guardian (U.K.)
"Greetings, fellow meritocrats and egalitarians. I bring some bad news. Nepotism might not be so terrible after all. Early days, I know, but unless his father Elmore publishes a late masterpiece in the next 11 months or so, Peter Leonard's All He Saw Was the Girl is likely the thriller of the year... Whatever it does - and it does an awful lot - All He Saw Was the Girl follows Elmore Leonard's '10 Rules of Writing' to the letter."
-- The Last Word
"Peter Leonard gets better and better. Three books in, and he's already ahead of the chasing pack of contenders for the crown worn for so long by his father, Elmore, the undisputed champ of hip thriller writers... The book has all the hallmarks of vintage Elmore. There's the hot-plate sizzle of brilliantly written dialogue, succinct description, all you need to know about where you are in a few telling sentences, no fat at all on these words, crisp characterization that tells you everything about the book's colorful cast and brings them to vivid actuality in a few neat strokes and an impeccable eye for detail. Tremendous stuff, really."
"Peter Leonard's third novel is just as fast faced and action packed as the first two and what we've come to expect by this new author. . . The way Leonard writes is so fluent that I'd finished the book in such a short amount of time and now can't wait for his next book."
-- The Fringe
Photo by David Trott