Taking a break from relentless self-promotion today to comment on the passing of a good friend I never met.
I was fortunate to be asked to review Leighton Gage’s A Vine in the Blood when it was released several years ago. I’d not heard of him then, but Stephanie Padilla at New Mystery Reader had developed a good sense of what I liked and asked me to give it a try. My first thought was of how much the book reminded me of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels. Those familiar with me know I don’t toss this level of praise around lightly.
An interview was arranged, where I quickly learned Leighton’s writing was no better than second in his list of talents; he was a true mensch. Gracious with a reviewer who had zero publishing cred at the time, his enthusiasm and good humor were infectious. The interview interaction grew into an e-mail friendship. We didn’t correspond a lot, but when we did the exchanges were entertaining—to me, at least—and enthusiastic. A true gentleman, he was unceasingly appreciative of any mention I gave to his writing, with never a hint he expected a good review, though he never needed worry along those lines; his writing never disappointed.
He was also an ardent supporter of my writing. I still have the emails he sent after reading Wild Bill and Grind Joint; his Amazon reviews provided fodder for the blurbs on this blog. His support, along with several others, went a long way toward convincing me I wasn’t flattering myself by thinking I was a writer. For that alone I owe him a great debt.
I never shook Leighton’s hand, nor heard his voice. I was an admirer of his work and of him as a person, and I hope he thought of me as a friend. He will be greatly missed on multiple levels. My sincere and deepest sympathy goes out to his wife, Eide, who wrote in Facebook:
Should we cry because he died or smile because he lived?
The crying will pass. The smiles will last us forever.