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The List of Elmore Leonard Books

Here is the complete list of books published by Elmore Leonard, an American novelist, short-story writer, and screenwriter best known for his Western, mystery, and crime fiction novels and short stories. 

Leonard had a long-running career, achieving worldwide success as a Western and crime novelist with over forty novels. Twenty-six of his bestselling works became popular films and television shows, and his legacy as a talented writer will live for years to come.

Who Is Elmore Leonard?

Western Author Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard, a well-renowned American Western, and crime fiction novelist and short story writer, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, on October 11, 1925. Leonard had a passion for fiction writing ever since he was young, starting his career with Western novels and short stories before turning to the mystery and crime genre.

His desire to write fiction developed back when he was in fifth grade, in the year 1935. “All Quiet on the Western Front” inspired a play he wrote when he was young, where he used the classroom desks as the barbed wire of no man’s land.

Leonard served a few years in the U.S. Naval Reserve before returning home in 1946 and graduating with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree at the University of Detroit in 1950. He worked as an advertising copywriter, though actively pursuing writing Western stories on the side. Leonard had several Western novels and short stories published in the 1950s, two of which had become movies: The Tall T and 3:10 to Yuma. “The Bounty Hunters” was his first full-length novel, written in 1953. Furthermore, The Western Writers of America chose his novel, “Hombre,” as one of the best Westerns of all time.

In 1961, he quit his job as an ad writer to become a full-time writer. Leonard then switched from writing Westerns to crime and mystery novels. He became a recipient of numerous honors, including the Edgar, National Book Award Medal for Distinguished Contributions, the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award, and the PEN Lifetime Achievement Award (2009). Some of his finest work was “Out Of Sight,” “Get Shorty,” “Killshot,” and the last novel, called “Raylan.”

Leonard lived the rest of his life in Bloomfield, Michigan, and died on August 25, 2013, from the complications of the stroke he suffered back in July of the same year. Elmore’s legacy lives on, and his work remains popular today.

Elmore Leonard Western Booklist & Summary

Here is Louis L’amour’s list of works along with a short summary:

Elmore Leonard Books # 1) The Bounty Hunters

Elmore Leonard Books # 1

Book Summary: The old Apache renegade Soldado Viejo is hiding out in Mexico, and the Arizona Department Adjutant has selected two men to hunt him down. One — Dave Flynn — knows war, the land, and the nature of his prey. The other is a kid lieutenant named Bowers. But there’s a different kind of war happening in Soyopa. And if Flynn and his young associate choose the wrong allies — and the wrong enemy — they won’t be getting out alive.

A 5-Star Review: I’ve always liked Elmore Leonard’s books and I’ve read quite a few, but all crime mysteries. This was my first Western. I liked the story, the matter of fact ness of the basically terrible things people did to each other. What I really liked were the characters. Totally straightforward without the banal development so many authors employ. A great book. – Robert J.

Elmore Leonard Books #2) Escape from Five Shadows

Elmore Leonard Books # 2



Book Summary: It was supposed to be impossible. No man could break out of the brutal convict labor camp at Five Shadows. Until they locked up Bowen. He was like dynamite–charged to go off, to explode out of that desert hell so he could clear his name. Already the deadly trackers have caught him, dragged him back through the mesquite and rocks, beat him and left him to rot in the punishment cell. But they can’t stop Bowen. He’s a different breed, a man who will go to any extreme to escape. Any extreme.

A 5-Star Review: I had forgotten how much I loved Elmore Leonard. His ability to write dialog is incredible. I have taken out several of his books I had on the shelf to re-read, something I rarely do. – Dave Cunningham

Elmore Leonard Books # 3) The Law at Randado

Elmore Leonard Books # 3

Book Summary: Phil Sundeen thinks Deputy Sheriff Kirby Frye is just a green local kid with a tin badge. And when the wealthy cattle baron’s men drag two prisoners from Frye’s jail and hang them from a high tree, there’s nothing the untried young lawman can do about it. But Kirby’s got more grit than Sundeen and his hired muscles bargained for. They can beat the boy and humilate him, but they can’t make him forget the jog he has sworn to do. The cattleman has money, fear, and guns on his side, but Kirby Frye’s the law in this godforsaken corner of the Arizona Territories. And he’ll drag Sundeen and his killers straight to hell himself to prove it.

A 5-Star Review: Another outstanding but quirky Elmore Leonard western. Leonard again proves himself a master of terse, realistic dialog and fine descriptive writing in this story of a young deputy with nerve and sand, but not much experience. He is confronted and tested by a rich, arrogant cattleman, the gunman on the cattleman’s payroll and a hostile town. – Charles van Buren

Elmore Leonard Books # 4) Last Stand at Saber River

Elmore Leonard Books # 4

Book Summary: A quiet, haunted man, Paul Cable walked away from a lost cause hoping to pick up where he left off. But things have changed in Arizona since he first rode out to go fight for the Confederacy. Two brothers—Union men—have claimed his spread and they’re not about to give it back, leaving Cable and his family no place to settle in peace. It seems this war is not yet over for Paul Cable. But no one’s going to take away his land and his future—not with their laws, their lies, or their guns.

A 5-Star Review: This is a particularly good story of the old west by Elmore Leonard. I’m a fan of most of the western writers and especially those who include the drama of “good against evil” and its emotional impact on the characters. I live in the North but have spent some good times in New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California. I love well written stories about the Southwest especially those with interesting (and accurate) historical information about the people and places of the Old West. I’ve read nearly ever book by Louie L’Amour and Zane Grey, some more than once. In fact, an interesting experience for me with regard to “Last Stand at Saber River” is that I saw the movie first and left the theater convinced it was a Louis L’Amour story. Obviously I didn’t read the credits. I enjoyed the story so much on the screen I decided to read the book itself. Well, big surprise, the book was actually written by Leonard and I loved the book as much, if not better, than the film. Since that experience, I’ve read several of Leonard’s other westerns (haven’t tried one of his mystery’s yet) and have enjoyed. – Bill Parker

Elmore Leonard Books # 5) Hombre

Elmore Leonard Books # 5

Book Summary: “Although known for his mysteries, Elmore Leonard has penned some of the best western fiction ever.”
USA Today

Grand Master Elmore Leonard is justifiably acknowledged as one of the very best crime fiction writers ever, alongside other all-time greats like John D. MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and Robert Parker. But he has also many acclaimed masterworks of American western fiction to his credit—including Hombre, the basis for the classic Hollywood motion picture starring Paul Newman. 

Set in Arizona mining country, Hombre is the tale of a white man raised by Indians, who must come to the aid of people who hate him when their stagecoach is attacked by outlaws. As thrilling as his contemporary novels of crime, double-cross, and murder in Detroit and Miami, Hombre is Elmore Leonard at his riveting best—no less than one would expect from the creator of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Justified).

A 5-Star Review: I haven’t read anything by the author, nor viewed the movie adaption so can’t compare the two however it’s no secret that I enjoy a good “western”.
The story unfolds through the eyes of Carl Allen who is a passenger on a stagecoach that is waylaid by robbers. Among the passengers is John Russell a white man who spent his early years living amongst the Indians.

This is a novel of prejudice and greed versus survival and moral integrity. Good versus evil. Loved the setting and the style. The delivery suited the environment the barren and arid desert. Enjoyed the characters presented here, particularly the enigmatic and taciturn John Russell who walks between two worlds.

This is more of a longer length novella but well written I thought and offers more than just a novel of the western genre. – Cphe

Elmore Leonard Books # 6) Valdez Is Coming

Elmore Leonard Books # 6

Book Summary: Touching on the themes of the popular FX series Justified featuring U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, Valdez Is Coming is New York Times bestselling author Elmore Leonard’s classic western tale of corruption, justice, and vengeance.

Forced to gun down an innocent man, part-time sheriff Roberto Valdez is nearly killed and run out of town when he seeks justice for the dead man’s family. But the same townsfolk who laughed at Valdez’s dark skin, mocked his decency, and tied him to a cross will find themselves on the wrong side of a gun when the lawman comes back to deliver his own brand of justice.

A 5-Star Review: I started reading Elmore Leonard’s crime novels and found them to be easy reading, fast-paced entertainment. Then I discovered that Leonard used to write westerns. While I enjoy his crime novels, his Westerns are even better. “Valdez is Coming” is the best one I’ve read so far. The characters are well developed and the action keeps one interested. I had seen the movie (Burt Lancaster as Valdez) when I was a teenager and considered it one of my favorite western movies. I wish Mr. Leonard would write a few more westerns because he is a master in this genre as well. – ranger11_99

Elmore Leonard Books # 7) The Moonshine War

Elmore Leonard Books # 7

Book Summary: Prohibition is a big headache for some . . . and a big payday for others, the fearless entrepreneurs with little respect for the law of the land. With $125,000 worth of Kentucky’s finest homemade whiskey in his possession, big, hell-raising Son Martin counts himself among the latter. Son knows having this much illegal hooch makes him a very tasty target, but nobody’s going to steal it from him. Ware may be coming to his backyard, but Son’s not worried. Because when it comes to fighting, shooting, and keeping one step ahead of the Big Boys, he’s more than good—he’s bad . . . and dangerous . . . and deadly.

A 5-Star Review: This was the best Elmore Leonard book that I have read so far. The characters were engaging as always. He had his strong silent hero in the person of Son Martin. What differentiated this book from the ones I have read previously by Leonard was the action. He was able to ramp up the action and then bring it back down only to ramp it up again. This was the first of Leonard’s books that I have read so far that had me on the edge of my seat during the action sequences. He seemed to be coming into his stride. Again, just like some of his previous books, he ends the story with unanswered questions making the reader want more. I’m starting to see recurring devices in his books. – Author Don Massenzio

Elmore Leonard Books # 8) Forty Lashes Less One

Book Summary: The hell called Yuma Prison can destroy the soul of any man. And it’s worse for those whose damning crime is the color of their skin. The law says Chiricahua Apache Raymond San Carlos and black-as-night former soldier Harold Jackson are murderers, and they’ll stay behind bars until they’re dead and rotting. But even in the worst place on Earth, there’s hope. And for two hard and hated inmates — first enemies, then allies by necessity — it waits at the end of a mad and violent contest … on a bloody trail that winds toward Arizona’s five most dangerous men.

A 5-Star Review: Two guys are thrown together in Yuma prison and start out as enemies and wind up as allies. Raymond is an Apache Indian and Harold is African American. This story finds them testing their own endurance and abilities, the power friendship and solidarity in the face of institutional and societal prejudice and hardship. It is a surprising and enervating story that is easily one of Elmore Leonard’s finest books. I mainly have read his crime fiction. In this Western, you have all of the elements of his best books, yet it is set in the West when an old prison is set to be vacated and the prisoners will be moved to a brand new prison. It is interesting to note that this was Elmore Leonard’s last Western novel, after this one his career pivoted mainly to crime fiction. For a little over twenty years Leonard was cranking out Westerns, with each one he was developing his own style and strengths. In many ways you could say with this story he was at the top of his game and let it rip. (I mean, I’ve read and loved Hombre, but this one was something else!) – Michael D.

Elmore Leonard Books # 9) The Hunted

Book Summary: In Elmore Leonard’s The Hunted, “crime fiction’s greatest living practitioner” (Washington Post) carries the action far from his usual Detroit, Miami, and Los Angeles milieus, all the way to the Middle East. There no lack of excitement and suspense—and the trademark Leonard dialogue—in this superior tale of a fugitive hiding under the radar in Israel, until a well-publicized Good Samaritan act attracts the unwanted attention of well-armed Motown mobsters who are now coming to get him. The author who introduced the world to U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (in his novels Pronto and Riding the Rap, before the lawman became the star of the hit TV drama Justified), the Grand Master shows why the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel calls him “the all-time king of the whack job crime novelists,” and goes on to say that “Elmore Leonard tops them all”…including John D. MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Robert B. Parker, and quite possibly every major mystery writer the U.S. has ever produced.

A 5-Star Review: Elmore was my favorite author, he died not too long ago so I’ll miss his books tremendously, I own everything he’s written. He wrote the most entertaining books. Here’s an amazing Elmore Leonard fact. He’s the only author to have the rights to every book he’s written purchased by Hollywood for the movie rights and included any book he might of written in the future. Show me another author that could say that, that’s how good he was. – Woodpro

Elmore Leonard Books # 10) Gunsights

Book Summary: Brendan Early and Dana Moon have tracked renegade Apaches together and gunned down scalp hunters to become Arizona legends. But now they face each other from opposite sides of what newspapers are calling The Rincon Mountain War. Brendan and a gang of mining company gun thugs are dead set on running Dana and “the People of the Mountain” from their land. The characters are unforgettable, the plot packed with action and gunfights from beginning to end.

A 5-Star Review: Elmore Leonard is one of my favorite crime writers but his westerns are gritty and realistic and portray people and times that are slipping into the past but come alive in the pages of his books. Always a great ending but with a twist. Pure enjoyment and escapism to an earlier era at it’s finest. Tough times, tough people and the great west at it’s lawless best. Elmore see the nuances of law enforcement as the dance of right and wrong and who has the power to decide. – Crispin Jachowicz

Elmore Leonard Books # 11) The Tonto Woman And Other Western Stories

Book Summary: From a forbidden glance on a Miami night to a killer’s slow burn on a Detroit street, no one mixes passion, scheming, and violence better than Elmore Leonard. But before he did it in Miami Beach or Motor City, Elmore Leonard did it on the American frontier.

The Tonto Woman and Other Western Stories is a raw, hard-bitten collection that gathers together the best of Leonard’s Western fiction. In stories that burn with passion, treachery, and heroism, the American frontier comes vividly, magnificently to life. In “The Tonto Woman,” a young wife, her face tattooed by Indian kidnappers, becomes society’s outcast–until an outlaw vows to set her free. . . . In “Only Good Ones,” we meet a fine man turned killer in one impossible moment. . . .”Saint with a Six-Gun” pits a doomed prisoner against his young guard–in a drama of deception and compassion that leads to a shocking act of courage. . . . In “The Colonel’s Lady,” a brutal ambush puts a woman into the hands of a vicious renegade–while a tracker attempts a rescue that cannot come in time . . . and in “Blood Money,” five bank robbers are being picked off one by one, but one man believes he can make it out alive.

The wild and glorious spirit of the West comes alive in the hands of America’s greatest storyteller. Etching a harsh, haunting landscape with razor-sharp prose, Elmore Leonard shows in nineteen brilliant stories why he has become the American poet laureate of the desperate and the bold.

A 5-Star Review: THE TONTO WOMAN by Elmore ‘Dutch’ Leonard contains short stories that will redefine how you view ‘The Old West’ with plots twists and turns the likes of which any writer can envy.
As a long time reader and fan of Leonard’s I like to revisit the western stories from time to time to enjoy the dialogue, storyline construction, and characters that are anything but stock or easy to pigeon hole.
THE TONTO WOMAN introduced us to a strong female lead long before it became common place, good guys who weren’t necessarily all that good, bad guys who weren’t all that bad, and folks caught in between who are still struggling with where they fit in or fall into the picture.
Hollywood gave us a number of versions of the ‘Old West’ but I suspect it is authors like Leonard who provide a better and realistic look.
This is a great commuter book. The stories are short, entertaining and well written. – Writetrak

Elmore Leonard Books # 12) The Hot Kid

Book Summary: The undisputed master of the crime novel strikes again with this powerfully entertaining story, set in 1920s Oklahoma, that introduces one of the toughest lawmen ever to come out of the west. . . . 

Carlos Webster was 15 the day he witnessed his first murder—but it wouldn’t be his last. It was also his first introduction to the notorious gunman, Emmet Long. By the time Carlos is 20, he’s being sworn in as a deputy United States marshal and now goes by the name Carl. As for Emmet, he’s robbing banks with his new partner, the no-good son of an oil millionaire.

Carl Webster and Emmet Long may be on opposite sides of the law but their long-time game of cat and mouse will turn them both into two of the most famous names in crime and punishment.

A 5-Star Review: his is a very nice departure for Elmore Leonard. The master of noir and the Runyonesque dramedy, he is also one of our top writers of westerns. In this novel he appropriates many aspects of the western to create a 30’s period novel. These are the hardscrabble 30’s, with elements of the depression and dustbowl sitting cheek by jowl with the exploits of the likes of Baby Face Nelson. The period details are exquisite–as finely etched as the lineaments of his characters.

We are, quintessentially, in the world of genre fiction, with predictable characters–marshals and molls–inevitable results, and a string of laconic apercus along the way. Very few can do this with the steady hand and light touch of a writer like Leonard and no one but Leonard can sustain focus and the reader’s attention while sketching a narrative that is unhurried and episodic.

Leonard’s sense of place is always impressive, whether that place be Miami, Los Angeles, or his native Detroit. Here the master does Tulsa and Kansas City. Enjoy and learn. – Richard B. Schwartz

Elmore Leonard Books # 13) Moment of Vengeance and Other Stories

Book Summary: The New York Times-bestselling Grand Master of suspense deftly displays the other side of his genius, with seven classic western tales of destiny and fatal decision . . . and trust as essential to survival as it is hard-earned.

Trust was rare and precious in the wide-open towns that sprung up like weeds on America’s frontier—with hustlers and hucksters arriving in droves by horse, coach, wagon, and rail, and gunmen working both sides of the law, all too eager to end a man’s life with a well-placed bullet. In these classic tales that span more than five decades—including the first story he ever published, “The Trail of the Apache”—Elmore Leonard once again demonstrates the superb talent for language and gripping narrative that have made him one of the most acclaimed and influential writers of our time.

A 5-Star Review: Seven fantastic tales of the west from Elmore Leonard. These stories ranged from what could be considered a standard western to less traditional. Moment of Vengeance, The Nagual, and the Rancher’s Lady are in my opinion the three best stories in this collection and none of them are your standard western stories. If you like the west and want to see how one of America’s best writers tells about it, then this book is for you. – Seth A. Tucker

Elmore Leonard Books # 14) Blood Money and Other Stories

Book Summary: The New York Times-bestselling Grand Master of suspense deftly displays the other side of his genius, with seven classic western tales of destiny and fatal decision . . . and trust as essential to survival as it is hard-earned.

Trust was rare and precious in the wide-open towns that sprung up like weeds on America’s frontier—with hustlers and hucksters arriving in droves by horse, coach, wagon, and rail, and gunmen working both sides of the law, all too eager to end a man’s life with a well-placed bullet. In these classic tales that span more than five decades—including the first story he ever published, “The Trail of the Apache”—Elmore Leonard once again demonstrates the superb talent for language and gripping narrative that have made him one of the most acclaimed and influential writers of our time.

A 5-Star Review: I loved this book. The only disappointment for me was that I finished it so quickly. Anyone who likes both westerns and short stories ought to read this book. It is terrific value for money.
Surely there is nobody better than Elmore Leonard in this genre. He is very readable and the background detail is superb. It is sad that he will write no more, but he has left a wonderful body of work for us all to enjoy. – John Townsend

Elmore Leonard Books # 15) Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories

Book Summary: The New York Times-bestselling Grand Master of suspense deftly displays the other side of his genius, with seven classic western tales of destiny and fatal decision . . . and trust as essential to survival as it is hard-earned.

Trust was rare and precious in the wide-open towns that sprung up like weeds on America’s frontier—with hustlers and hucksters arriving in droves by horse, coach, wagon, and rail, and gunmen working both sides of the law, all too eager to end a man’s life with a well-placed bullet. In these classic tales that span more than five decades—including the first story he ever published, “The Trail of the Apache”—Elmore Leonard once again demonstrates the superb talent for language and gripping narrative that have made him one of the most acclaimed and influential writers of our time.

A 5-Star Review: Tight and action-filled with excellent characters and fascinating twists to each tale of the west and those who lived and breathed the dusty air of cow towns and cattle country. Great variety and each one a well-focused glimpse into the past. Well worth the time. – Sam B. Wagner

Elmore Leonard Books # 16) Trail of the Apache and Other Stories

Book Summary: The New York Times-bestselling Grand Master of suspense deftly displays the other side of his genius, with seven classic western tales of destiny and fatal decision . . . and trust as essential to survival as it is hard-earned.

Trust was rare and precious in the wide-open towns that sprung up like weeds on America’s frontier—with hustlers and hucksters arriving in droves by horse, coach, wagon, and rail, and gunmen working both sides of the law, all too eager to end a man’s life with a well-placed bullet. In these classic tales that span more than five decades—including the first story he ever published, “The Trail of the Apache”—Elmore Leonard once again demonstrates the superb talent for language and gripping narrative that have made him one of the most acclaimed and influential writers of our time.

A 5-Star Review: Elmore Leonard wrote westerns as if he was watching the events take place. The reader can smell the coming rain, see the herds of thousands of buffalo. hear the creak of leather on rode- hard horses, and taste the jerked beef dug out from greasy saddle bags on dusty trails. Don’t expect another writer to equal Elmore Leonard; read all his novels, then read them again. – ann smith

Elmore Leonard Books # 17) Westerns

Book Summary: The New York Times-bestselling Grand Master of suspense deftly displays the other side of his genius, with seven classic western tales of destiny and fatal decision . . . and trust as essential to survival as it is hard-earned.

Trust was rare and precious in the wide-open towns that sprung up like weeds on America’s frontier—with hustlers and hucksters arriving in droves by horse, coach, wagon, and rail, and gunmen working both sides of the law, all too eager to end a man’s life with a well-placed bullet. In these classic tales that span more than five decades—including the first story he ever published, “The Trail of the Apache”—Elmore Leonard once again demonstrates the superb talent for language and gripping narrative that have made him one of the most acclaimed and influential writers of our time.

A 5-Star Review: This is a fascinating book. I’m not a fan of Westerns, but Elmore Leonard is one of the writers I respect the most. This book is fascinating in that you can watch his evolution as he teaches himself to write–even though where he started from is far too high for most of us to reach–and his writing improves with each story. This book includes Elmore Leonard’s famous short story “3:10 to Yuma”. I think this story has now been filmed five times. It’s interesting to see that each successive film version of this story gets more and more violent as it drifts further and further away from Leonard’s plot, which relies and superb timing and creation of atmosphere. The final story in this collection is a recent work, “The Tanto Woman” which is Leonard writing at his most mature and the height of his power. – IWilliam Stonehill

Conclusion

With over forty novels, short stories, and screenplays, Elmore Leonard has been called and recognized as the greatest living writer of crime fiction and a prolific western fiction writer. If you love action-packed western fiction, then we encourage you to check out our list of similar western authors here. And if you are looking for a book you can read for free, check out this month’s free read.

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