I met Elmore Leonard once, and spent an hour with him. He was courteous and soft-spoken, and I cherish the first edition of “Freaky Deaky” that he inscribed for me. Of himself, as expected, he gave little away, and the effort to fix him now, in my memory, is an almost impossible task. When I discovered in the diaries of Sir Alec Guinness that the great actor was a fan of Leonard, and that he took “Out of Sight” on vacation one year, the link made perfect sense. Each man was skilled in self-effacement and immune to glamour, reserving all his bravado and wits for the professional arena; you can picture Leonard, like George Smiley, eavesdropping tacitly from the fringes of a room. He is gone now, but he left us a fine consolation: if you’ve never read him, or if you’d never heard of him until yesterday, or if you merely need a fitting way to mourn, pick up “52 Pick-Up,” “LaBrava,” “Swag,” or “Glitz,” and tune into the voices of America—calling loud and clear, and largely ungrammatical, from Atlantic City, Miami, Hollywood, and his home turf of Detroit. Elmore Leonard got them right, and did them proud.