Yet when it comes to TV and movies, very few of those wonderful novels make it to the big or little screen intact. The exceptions are so good that they become timeless classics -- Mystic River, L.A. Confidential, The Grifters, Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and a few others.
Add to that list Justified, which makes its return Feb. 9 on FX. It will air on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Justified is based on a Leonard short story about U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, an old-fashioned Kentucky lawman who is a deeply flawed good man. He knows what he is. A relentless lawman, quick on the draw and usually justified in his shooting.
But Leonard has never skimped on action. Justified's second season begins about two hours after the first season ended so expect plenty of fire power.
Leonard currently is working on a full-length novel about U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens.
That quote has been around for decades, maybe even centuries. Yet no one seems to agree on who actually said it.
What is true, though, is comedy is hard.
Finding the mesh of humor to appeal to a wide range of people isn't easy. Each of us has a different sensibility. What's funny to me, may not be funny to you. And visa versa.
Comedy is even harder in mysteries.
I've been thinking a lot about humor in mysteries after just finishing Tim Dorsey's recent novel, Electric Barracuda. Dorsey is the Three Stooges of the mystery world, mixing slapstick, politically incorrect humor and wild escapades into what could be called a novel. The plots are outlandish and the characters unbelievable.
Still, Dorsey's humor isn't for everyone and that's all right.
The mystery genre is blessed with a number of very funny mystery writers. What makes these novels work is the fact that the authors take care to keep the seriousness of the murder serious but find the humor in the absurd behavior of people.
I like different kinds of humor.
Donna Andrews, Elaine Viets and Nancy Martin write funny. Paul Levine also writes funny with his Solomon vs Lord series. And let's also add in Toni Kelner and Steven Forman. Harlan Coben has that perfect mix of humor and seriousness with his Myron Bolitar series.
I know I am forgetting some very funny writers. Who are your favorites?