Elmore Leonard, known as one of the great writers of U.S. crime fiction, died Tuesday in Detroit. He was 87.

"Elmore passed away this morning at 7:15 a.m. at home surrounded by his loving family," an announcement on the writer's Web site said.

The novelist had been recovering from a stroke and heart attack that he had suffered a month ago.

The author's long-time researcher, Gregg Sutter, said that Leonard was working on what would have been his 46th novel when he was hospitalized.

Although he began his career writing Westerns, Leonard rapidly moved into the crime genre.

More than two dozen of his stories were transformed into movies or television shows, including "3:10 to Yuma," "Hombre," "Get Shorty" and "Rum Punch," which inspired Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown."

"Justified," a cable television series about a U.S. marshal in Kentucky, is also based on a work by Leonard, who served as the show's executive producer.

Last year, he was awarded the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. EFE