A deeply rooted sense of place is among the elements that make Elmore Leonard novels so vivid, whether his setting is Oakland County or Harlan County, KY. His appreciation of roots also shows in a newly announced tour schedule to promote Raylan, being published Jan. 17.
After a public appearance that day in Beverly Hills, CA, the 86-year-old writer flies home for a Jan. 19 reading at in Birmingham. The 7 p.m. event is a father-and-son reunion also featuring Peter Leonard, a Birmingham resident who'll read from Voices of the Dead, his fourth book. Both volumes can be pre-ordered from Book Beat, an Oak Park shop that will have copies for sale at the Birmingham presentation.
New York City readings Jan. 24-25 are the only other stops listed by HarperCollins, publisher of Raylan. It focuses on U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, a character in three earlier novels (Pronto, Riding the Rap, Fire in the Hole) and Justified, an Emmy-winning TV series based on Leonard's laconic, fast-shooting lawman. Season three on the FX cable channel begins Jan. 17, not coincidentally.
The 272-page new novel is set in the coal region of Harlan County, KY, where drug-dealing brothers Dickie and Coover Crowe expand into illegal sales of human kidneys and other transplant organs.
Leonard, now living in Bloomfield Township, is a former Birmingham homeowner who raised five children in the city. He earned a lifetime achievement award in 2006 from the and was honored at in November 2010 during a three-day . That program, originally envisioned as an annual event, cited "his outstanding contributions to the film and literary arts, our community and the state of Michigan."
January's readings will be the second at Baldwin by the elder and younger Leonards, who sat side-by-side there in September 2008 to promote Quiver, the first crime novel by Peter Leonard. At a more recent Birmingham appearance, Elmore Leonard signed books at the former Border's store in October 2010, when he read from the newly issued Djibouti.
Currently, the legendary writer has a non-literary reason to celebrate. His fourth great-grandchild, Miles Leonard Johnson, was born Nov. 18 in Los Angeles to Birmingham native Megan Freels and Brett Johnson. Freels, one of Leonard's granddaughters, is an independent film producer.