(Note: I have to leave here at 9:00 am EST and will not return to mid-afternoon, so latecomers will not be seated until then. Very sorry about this)
BILL CRIDER DAY ON Friday's Forgotten Books.
I have known Bill Crider since I began blogging in late 2005. It wasn't long before I stumbled onto his blog and like everyone was charmed by it. Two things drew us closer. He contributed a book review to my idea of looking at forgotten books on Fridays the very first week in 2007.
I thought this endeavor would last a month or two, but Bill was in for the duration and contributed reviews every Friday for ten years. I asked him from time to time was he tired of doing it and he always said his only worry was he would run out of books to talk about. Of course, he never did.
The second point of contact was when he was asked to edit a second volume of DAMN NEAR DEAD, put together by David Thompson. I was amazed and delighted when he asked me to contribute a story. This was early on and he was taking a chance, putting me in with far more illustrious writers. But that was the kind of guy he was, giving new writers a place in his world. Always encouraging, always humble.
I have only met Bill about three times and although we never have had a long conversation in person, I think we had them online through the many comments we shared about books and writers. There are few, if any, people in this business more loved than Bill. I hope today will prove that. How many people could write so many books and still make time to review the books of others, to give a helping hand, to fill our world with jokes, music, musings, TV, movies.
If I had to choose a few words to describe Bill, they would be decent, kind, generous, talented, modest. How proud we all are to know him. He has made our world a better place.
In Bill's own words for who could say it better. (This is from a few years back, before the VBKs, for instance.
I was born and brought up in
Mexia (that's pronounced Muh-HAY-uh by the natives), Texas. The town's
most famous former citizen is Anna Nicole Smith, whom my brother taught
in biology class when she was in the ninth grade. I've always lived in
small Texas towns, unless you count Austin as a large town. It wasn't
so large when I lived there, though. I attended The University of Texas
at Austin for many, many years. My wife (the lovely Judy) says that I
would never have left grad school if she hadn't forced me to get out and
get a real job. I eventually earned my Ph.D. there, writing a
dissertation on the hard-boiled detective novel, and thereby putting my
mystery-reading habit to good use. Before that, I'd gotten my M.A. at
the University of North Texas (in Denton), and afterward I taught
English at Howard Payne University for twelve years. Then I moved to
scenic Alvin, Texas, where until 2002 I was the Chair of the Division of
English and Fine Arts. I retired in August 2002 to become a either a
full-time writer or a part-time bum. Take your pick.
What kind of books do I write?
All kinds, but mostly mysteries. The Sheriff Dan Rhodes series
features the adventures of a sheriff in a small Texas county where there
are no serial killers, where a naked man hiding in a dumpster is big
news, and where the sheriff still has time to investigate the theft of a
set of false teeth. The first book in this series won an Anthony Award
for "best first mystery novel" in 1986. The latest book in the series
is Murder in Four Parts. (Eight books have followed this one)
I also write about a couple of college English teachers. Carl Burns teaches at a four-year school and is a reluctant amateur
sleuth who, according to one reader's complaint, frequently gets beaten
up by women. He works at a small denominational college, and his latest
case can be found in . . . a Dangerous Thing.
Sally Good is the chair of the English Department at a community
college near the Texas Gulf Coast. She's also a reluctant amateur
sleuth, but nobody beats her up. Check her out in A Knife in the Back.
And then there's my private-eye steries.
Truman Smith operates on Galveston Island, not far from Houston. The
first book in the series was nominated for a Shamus Award by the
Private-Eye Writers of America, but to date no one has had the wisdom ot
publish the books in paperback, and the series is out of print.
But wait! There's more! Yes, I write nonseries books, too. In the mystery field, there's The Texas Capitol Murders in which you get murder, politics, and a bunch of pretty odd characters, some of whom aren't even Texas legislators. Blood Marks
is my venture into serial killerdom, and it's completely different from
anything else I've ever written. It's bloody and violent and the
reviewers (even Kirkus!) loved it. Probably my best-selling book.
And of course there are the westerns, including Outrage at Blanco and Texas Vigilante.
So what do I do in my spare time?
I run five or six days a week. I used to run in the afternoons, but
now that I'm retired, I run in the early mornings. In scenic Alvin,
Texas, it doesn't make much difference. It's always hot, and the
humidity is always about like it is around the equator.
I listen to music. I have an extensive library of CDs, and I pop in
whatever I'm in the mood to hear. Most of this music is from another
era, which proves once and for all that I'm an old fogy, but I can't
help it. Mostly I listen to New York doo-wop, rockabilly, The Platters,
the Coasters, Buddy Holly, Elvis, Dion and the Belmonts, and any group
or solo singer from the 1950s that you can think of. There's earlier
stuff, too, like Les Paul and Mary Ford and the Ink Spots. I also like
the music of the "folk era" of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Lots of
that has been reissued on CD recently, and I'm an eager customer. Of
course, I don't really hear the music most of the time; I tend to get so
involved in the writing that everything around me disappears. But I
like to think that the songs have some kind of subliminal effect and
maybe even seep into the novel I'm working on. I'd love to write a book
that was like a Buddy Holly record, with that same infectious sense of
fun, or a book that caught the spirit of the end of the school year like
the Jamies' "Summertime, Summertime." I have the five-CD set of Elvis'
1950s' masters and the four-CD Roy Orbison set, not to mention a lot of
great stuff by the Everly Brothers, CDs containing all the records of
the real Kingston Trio (the one with Dave Guard), the Atlantic "History
of Rhythm and Blues" CDs, a double set by Clyde McPhatter and the
Drifters, and more wonderful stuff than I can list here.
I'm also a big mystery fan: I've had a letter in every single issue (more than 150 now) of Cap'n Bob Napier's "letterzine," Mystery & Detective Monthly. I also do my own fanzine, Macavity,
which appears in DAPA-Em, the only amateur press association devoted to
mystery fiction. I haven't missed a mailing in more than twenty years.
And then there are the cats:
Three of them. Geri, Speedo, and Sam. All three are different ages, and
all three of them just turned up here. I was too soft-hearted to turn
them away, so by now they've just about taken over the place. Not that
anyone seems to mind.
From Jeff Meyerson
Bill Crider, The Texas Capitol Murders (1992).
tough for me to write about Bill Crider, especially under these
terrible circumstances. I've known Bill for 40 years (we met in person
first in 1980, but knew each other through DAPA-EM and various mystery
publications before that), and I consider him a good friend, so this is
definitely not objective. I've read the large majority of his books and
have most of them inscribed by him, and one of the Sheriff Rhodes books
was dedicated to me, a real honor. Sheriff Rhodes would be an obvious
choice, especially for someone who has never read one of his books, as
to me the Sheriff books is closest to the 'voice' of the author. But
the other mystery series - Carl Burns, Sally Good, Galveston PI Truman
Smith - as well as his horror novels (as by Jack MacLane) and westerns
are also worth your time, as are the kids' books (like A Vampire Named Fred, an entertaining plea for tolerance for the undead) and short stories (many involving cats).
thought I'd go with this one however, the one praised by former First
Lady (of Texas, then) Laura Bush. It's historical, it's funny, it's
political, and it's great fun. What more could you want? A supposedly
promiscuous Mexican-American cleaner is found murdered in a dumpster
outside the Texas Capitol during its renovations, possibly seen by
homeless vagrant Wayne the Wagger, not really a reliable or helpful
witness. Then there is the dumb as dirt, paranoid Governor, the
powerful State Senator and his closeted bisexual aide, naive tour
guides, lobbyists and drug dealers, and the Texas Ranger called in to
solve the murders (yes, there are more than one).
never been to Austin or the State Capitol, but those who have done have
testified as to the accuracy of the portrayals, and you really can't go
wrong here. I just hope it isn't true that we've seen the last of
From Deb Pfeifer
many people, I did not come to Patti’s blog through Bill Crider’s but
rather the reverse:
I found Patti’s blog about eight years ago and from her blog roll
discovered many others, including Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine. I
lurked there for a while before I posted a comment, but eventually I
joined the fray and never looked back. Patti’s, Bill’s,
and George Kelley’s blogs are always the first three I read every
obvious intelligence, unfailing good humor, kindness, and decency are
apparent in everything
he writes. His overwhelming love for Judy and their children shines
through in the various essays and remembrances he occasionally posts.
His mind is sharp, but never cruel, and he can always be relied on for a
gentle, long-term take on events that have me
ranting with indignation. His reviews are always on the generous side—he
does not like to post negative reviews and always tries to find
something positive to say about even the most critically-drubbed movie
only got to meet Bill in person once, but I’m so glad I had that
opportunity: last year in New
Orleans at Boucheron (where I also met Jeff & Jackie Meyerson,
George & Diane Kelley, and—right as we were taking photos—Art
Scott). Although obviously tired from his recent medical treatments,
Bill was in good spirits and spent quite some time talking with
my husband, John. (As soon as we got back home, John went to the
library and checked out some of Bill’s books. I think right now he’s
read more of Bill’s books than I have.)
still hard for me to comprehend that Bill has decided to discontinue
his blog. There will
be no more posts of the Song of the Day (a reflection of Bill’s
wide-ranging and eclectic tastes), Thin Mints Melees, Texas Leading the
Way, WBAGNFARB, Stay off His Lawn, Is There A Problem Officer?, and many
others. One of Bill’s frequent tag lines was Yet
Another List I’m Not On,
but there is a list I’m on, along with a lot of others, and that is
people whose lives have been made richer by knowing (no matter how
I was unable to copy from Facebook Sharon Lynch's words about Bill. However she admired him and was hoping to meet him in Toronto, which she did. And was so glad she did.
MURDER OF A BEAUTY SHOP QUEEN, Bill Crider (Patti Abbott)
Bill Crider makes writing delightful books look easy. In
fact, it is not easy to combine a
satisfying crime and its solution with great characters, terrific local color, a
wry sense of humor., and a style of writing easy to digest. Sheriff Dan Rhoades
solves crimes and keeps order (and it is not always simple with a domestic
animal population that is as troublesome as their owners, and in the case of
feral pigs, no owners) down in Blacklin County, Texas.
In this outing from 2012, Lynn Ashton, a pretty hair stylist
has been bashed over the head with a hair dryer. Suspects range from scorned
lovers, to jealous wives, to two outsiders who have been scraping the town. Or
maybe Lynn saw something she shouldn't have as she waited for a rendezvous with
one of her clients. The characters, both new and old, all are the beneficiaries
of inventive character development and the conclusion is satisfying and solid.
Sergio Angelini, SHOTGUN SATURDAY NIGHT
Yvette Banek, TOO LATE TO DIE
Elgin Bleecker, A DANGEROUS THING
Ben Boulden, TOP OF THE WORLD
Max Allan Collins,
Martin Edwards. Bill
Barry Ergang, BLACKLIN COUNTY FILES
Curt Evans, EVERYTHING'S MORE MYSTERIOUS IN TEXAS
Ed Gorman, SURVIVORS WILL BE SHOT AGAIN
; BLOOD MARKS
Charles Gramlich, BILL CRIDER DAY
John Grant, WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE MURDER
Richard Horton, TEXAS VIGILANTE
Jerry House, BIG BILL VS. THE REPTILE MEN OF ALVIN
Randy Johnson, OUTRAGE AT BLANCO
George Kelley, GOOD NIGHT, MOOM
Kate Laity, Bill Crider's Sherlock
B.V. Lawson, Bill Crider
Evan Lewis, The Secrets of Bill Crider's 1990 Bookshelves ; Visual Bibliography
Steve Lewis, MURDER AMONG THE OWLS
Brian Lindenmuth (Spinetinger Magazine) Interview with Bill
Terrie Moran, MURDER OF A BEAUTY SHOP QUEEN
; COMPOUND MURDER,
DEAD TO BEGIN WITH
Neer, A TIME FOR HANGING
J.F. Norris, DEAD ON THE ISLAND
Juri Nummelin, OUTRAGE AT BLANCO
Matt Paust, DEAD TO BEGIN WITH
The Rap Sheet, THE BLOG
Reactions in Reading, TOO LATE TO DIE
James Reasoner, Best Bill
Richard Robinson, Bill Crider's Holmes Stories
Gerard Saylor, Bill Crider's Novels
Kevin Tipple, FAST TRACK
(with Ed Gorman), THE BLACKIN COUNTY FILES
TracyK, EVIL AT THE ROOT
Dave Zeltserman, PIANO MAN
Many, many years ago I began posting about the books I read to
DorothyL and every time I mentioned reading a Sheriff Dan Rhodes
mystery, Bill Crider wrote to thank me. It was unnecessary but pleased
me inordinately, even more so when I did a little research and saw just
how many books he'd published. He certainly didn't need me to promote
his books. When I heard him speak at a conference, I was entertained
because he talked just like I imagined Sheriff Rhodes did. If anything
could make me admire him more, it was his rescue of Keneau, the
abandoned kitten, and, after everyone urged him to return to the place
he found her, he located her siblings, to whom he has given the greatest
care. Bill is a rare soul and I am fortunate to have met him.