Photo: Tibby Rothman on http://elmoreleonard.com/
For 32½ years, Gregg Sutter had a unique job: He served as Elmore Leonard’s researcher. His leg man, if you prefer a more active term, and that probably fits better, writes Neal Rubin in the Detroit News.
“Researcher” sounds like someone sitting in a library, getting dusty in the stacks or dizzy at the microfiche machine.
Sutter did plenty of that, but he would also go to Cuba for Leonard, or embed himself with detectives in Atlantic City, or track down a guy from Louisiana who made his living leaping from an 80-foot tower into not much more than a hot tub.
Sutter, 63, is based in Los Angeles but grew up on Farmbrook Street on Detroit's far east side, attending Bishop Gallagher High School and Oakland University.
Leonard died in August after a stroke at 87. As Rubin writes, "They were collaborators. They were friends. They were as unique in their relationship as Leonard was with his prose."
Sutter continues to work on Leonard's behalf, editing “Elmore Leonard: Four Novels of the 1970s,” for the prestigious Library of America. It comes out Sept. 4 and contains “Fifty-Two Pickup,” “Swag,” “Unknown Man No. 89” and “The Switch,” from Leonard’s Detroit period.
Sutter also runs http://elmoreleonard.com/, and he is beginning work on a memoir, the title of which comes from what someone told him after Sutter had told him about what he did for a living:
“I’d kill to have your job.”