Monday, February 19, 2018

Farewell, Bill

     This is most of the final e-mail I got from Bill Crider, whose memorial service is today. It's more serious than most. Even the salutation, which is usually "Hey, Cap'n" assumes a more somber tone. 



Hi, Bob.

I'm a much worse correspondent than anybody.  You've read the latest update on the chemo.  I wish it were doing a better job on the PSA.  I need to get this thing kicked, and nothing seems to be working.  Naturally.  It's never easy when it's me.

I told the doctor about some pain I was having, and she said, "That's not cancer-related. Sometimes people of your age . . . ."  That's when I quit listening. I hate it when they start sentences like that.  But in the case of your knee pain, well, . . . .

Dan Rhodes doesn't live in the real present or he'd be a lot more upset about the world than he is.  I can't believe what's happened to this country, which was the greatest in the world at one time. I don't think that's true now, and I really resent it that I'm going to die in a country that's going downhill so fast. I don't know how many years I have left, but even it's ten or fifteen, I can't see us recovering.  I try not to think too much about it for fear of falling into despair.

I like not getting invited to things. I'd rather curl up with a good book than go to a reception or a wedding or anything else.  I'm a homebody.  Your daughters will get over it soon, I hope.  You'll just have to pour oil on troubled waters, or whatever it takes.  I like to keep out of stuff like that if I can.

Thanks for that review on Amazon.  I can use all the help I can get.  I don't know if I'll be writing another Rhodes book after the one I'm working on. St. Martin's doesn't seem interested. Maybe my agent can talk them into it, though.  I'll figure out how to get Boss Napier into the plot if I do.

I'm keeping the sunny side up as best I can.  What else can I do? 

Best,

Bill

Monday, February 12, 2018

Bill Crider

Our cherished friend Bill Crider died today. Words are inadequate. He'll be missed by family, friends, and fans alike. The world is poorer for his loss. My heart is heavy.

Goodbye, old pard. It was a great ride.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

We Lost Two More

Today I learned that former Mouseketeer Doreen Tracey and Sportscaster Keith Jackson have died. I'm not feeling all that chipper myself, but I'm not close to the grave yet. I'm just tired of all these damn deaths.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Bill Crider

Bill and Judy

Photos by Arthur Charles Scott except the one with Loren Estleman

     It's no secret that Bill Crider is fighting a life-threatening disease right now. I join his legion of fans and friends who are upset, saddened, and damned mad that such a terrible fate has befallen one of the world's finest men. Bill is not only a fine man but a talented and reliable writer. 
     I first became aware of Bill in 1979 when I joined Dapa-Em, the mystery apa (amateur press alliance). A year later we met in person at the Washington, D.C., Bouchercon. He didn't have any books out yet--we thought, though in fact he had dozens--but he had encyclopedic knowledge of the mystery genre and was no slouch at Westerns, science fiction, and horror. The members of Dapa-Em had room parties at every convention and Bill was always there with the lovely Judy at his side. He was low key but not a wallflower, and when he spoke he always had something interesting, enlightening, or witty to say. We always stocked Dr Pepper knowing it was his beverage of choice. 
     
     Bill was a prolific author, as many know, and his signature work is the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series. You can tell a lot about Bill from reading those books. Like, his love of old paperbacks and his sorrow ay seeing Main Street America dry up and blow away. He never preached, but he made his point in his usual easy-going way.
     Bill also wrote Horror under the name Jack MacLane and scores of series Westerns, men's adventure novels, and collaborations, like the Willard Scott books. He wrote so many books under house names that even he can't remember them all. 
     But my favorite series, which he did under his own name, are the Boss Napier mysteries. Oh sure, a lot of people call them the Carl Burns books, but they are wrong. Alas, there were only four books in the series, which was ostensibly about a college professor in a small Texas town who gets involved with murders, but for my money the star of the show was Robert "Boss" Napier, Pecan City's irrepressible lawman. Boss has an eye for the ladies and vies for the attentions of a pretty teacher at Burns' school. Unlike most cops in amateur sleuth books, Boss wasn't a loud-mouthed blockhead. He just wasn't as quick to spot the killer as Burns. I'm sure he would have, given enough time.
     I was flattered as all get out when I saw the first Boss Napier book, and Bill was good enough to tuckerize me in several other of his works. I suggested he write a Rhodes book that brings in Boss as a guest lawman, and Bill allowed as how he might do something along those lines, but it seems like a long shot now, dagnabbit!

(l-r) me, Steve Stilwell, and Bill at an apres B'con gathering at Art Scott's house outside of San Francisco. Way outside, perhaps Cupertino. Bill is perusing the newly-released Paperback Price Guide.

(l-r) Loren Estleman, Loren's wife, me, Leslie Slaasted (va-va-voom!) and Bill. Taken at the Monterey Bouchercon in 1997, where I was the Fan GoH. Bill introduced me at the banquet.

     One thing about Bill, he was Mr. Reliable. He never missed a mailing of Dapa-Em, never failed to have a letter in Mystery & Detective Monthly, never failed to contribute to Patti Abbot's Friday's Forgotten Books on her blog, and never missed a deadline for OWLHOOT, a Western apa I ramrod. I'm sure there are others. Bill was an iron man. Maybe it was his dedication to running every day, or maybe that's just the way he was raised. 

     Bill loves music. When I mentioned gaps in my collection of oldies songs he immediately sent me cassettes of albums by such luminaries as The Skyliners and The Platters. He even sent me a tape of a song he recorded, an old Elvis hit. He wrote on the info card that it was by Billy Bob and the (can't remember dang it). He sang in a barbershop quartet in Alvin, performed in an oldies rock group with some fellow faculty members as The Fabulous G-Strings, and once helped The Kingston Trio warm up backstage before one of their performances. That final little nugget wasn't known by me until I'd known Bill for a good 25 years. Bill plays his cards close to the vest.
Also at Art Scott's house, Bill checking out a rare paperback. I walked in just as Art took the photo.

     Did Bill really have fixations on alligators and Paris Hilton? No, not really. These were running jokes that he enjoyed. The gator one started in Dapa-Em when he mentioned in one of his zines that he liked books and movies about alligators in the sewers. That got the snowball rolling downhill. I got into the spirit of it in a big way. For years I sent greeting cards with alligators on them and other gator items. The best was probably a real gator skull. Or maybe it's the alligator earrings I sent to Judy. When she e-mailed me her thanks I suggested that the next day she greet him at the door wearing the earrings--and nothing else.  Bill's response: "I can't wait." 

     I guess I've droned on enough, but even though there are more Bill Crider stories I can't relate them all. I guess I'm in denial, too. Bill will back at the old stand, doing his blog, writing his books, and charming people with his great aw-shucks presence again. I can't countenance anything else.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE !
     
     I found the tape Bill made. It was by Billy Boy and the BBs and contains Don't Be Cruel and Blue Suede Shoes. This will be made available eventually. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bill Crider's Lost Story

I was rummaging through a dresser yesterday, looking for more space for my socks, when I chanced upon some written material. One item was a comic book from Dark Horse Comics called Underground. I had it in a taped bag and had no idea why it was in the house. Later, curiosity got the better of me and I lifted the tape and slid the comic out. A glance at the Table of Contents revealed a story by Bill Crider. Some of the seven stories in this magazine are illustrated (poorly) and some are text. Bill's is text with a couple of drawings laid in. This comic was apparently produced under the auspices of Andrew Vachss, and I suspect Bill wrote the story as a favor to him. The date of publication is 1993 and the cover warns that it's for mature readers. 
     Sorry about the lousy reproduction.  






Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Merry Little Christmas


     Here are my girls, the MonaLisa Twins, doing an old holiday favorite. I dedicate it to my old pal Bill Crider, who's up against it these days.