Donald E. Westlake Remembered

Mystery author Donald E. Westlake has passed away at the age of 75 according to the Los Angeles Times.

Westlake's wife, Abigail told The New York Times the author collapsed as he headed to a New Year's Eve dinner while on vacation in Mexico. His wife says he apparently had a heart attack.

Westlake is considered one of the most successful mystery writers in the United States. He won three Edgar Awards and was nominated for an Academy Award for screenplay writing for "The Grifters."

Since his first novel, "The Mercenaries," was published by Random House in 1960, Westlake has written under his own name and several pseudonyms, including Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Samuel Holt and Edwin West. Despite the diversity of names, one shared feature was that almost all his books were set in New York City, where he was born.

He used many names in part to combat skepticism over his rapid rate of writing books, which at some points reached four a year.

Westlake's cinematic style of storytelling, along with his carefully crafted plots and crisp dialogue, translated well to the screen. More than 15 of his books were made into movies, some multiple times. In addition, he himself wrote a number of screenplays, including "The Grifters," which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1991.

He was writing all the way till he passed away. His next novel, "Get Real," is scheduled to be released in April 2009.