Sunday, December 17, 2017

From James Cameron

Bill Crider: We'll Always Have Murder (James Cameron)

For years, checking out Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine has been part of my daily routine. It’s one of the most entertaining sites on the Internet, IMHO. Years ago, I even sent Bill a couple of items that he posted and kindly gave me credit for. I started reading his blog posts because I was already familiar with his work as a mystery writer and figured his posts would be just as good―and I was right. For the past year, he’s been posting about some serious health issues, which seem to have reached a critical point. A bunch of Bill’s friends have decided to dedicate the latest edition of Friday’s Forgotten Books, and this post is my contribution and tribute.
This book is really forgotten―even the author says so, according to this interview: “Thanks to my agent, who got me the job, I also got the chance to write a private-eye novel with Humphrey Bogart as a featured character. It’s one of my better books, though nobody has heard of it—We’ll Always Have Murder is the title.” Subtitled “A Humphrey Bogart Mystery,” the book’s protagonist is Terry Scott, a war veteran and low-rent PI who works for Jack Warner to keep his stars’ peccadilloes out of the limelight, if not out of trouble. In this case, the star is Bogart, who’s been accosted by a sleazier PI for blackmail purposes. Scott meets Bogie, begins investigating with his help, and runs into multiple murders. Crider puts in plenty of apt allusions to and quotations from The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and The Big Sleep, some of them from Bogart, as this odd couple travels through both the glittery and seamy pockets of late 1940s Hollywood. Both of them come off as real, fallible, but ultimately capable investigators as they deal with Mayo Methot, Bogart’s real life, pre-Bacall wife, and a motley collection of stars, studio execs, wannabes, stunt men, and other movie types.
I really liked this book. I’ve always enjoyed period stories about Tinseltown, like Stuart Kaminsky’s Toby Peters series and Edward Wright’s wonderful John Ray Horn novels. We’ll Always Have Murder provides ample wry humor without caricaturing his Hollywood characters, who were and are bizarre enough in real life; it also adds a few darker strokes that emphasize the seediness beneath that tinsel. My sense is that it was intended to be a series, but apparently that never happened―my only disappointment. I urge you to read We’ll Always Have Murder―there seem to be plenty of used copies to be had from the usual suspects.

As for Bill Crider, I’d like to think that, like his books, he may still have a few more surprises for us before the end, optimist that I am. Whatever happens, Bill, we’ll continue to treasure all of the work you’ve accomplished as a writer and a person―and thanks for the ride.  

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A late one from Eric Beetner and Victoria Kemp

BTW for those who steer clean of Facebook, there are many, many tributes to Bill on there.

Eric Beetner, author

The writing world is paying tribute to Bill Crider today, and a more deserving man I don’t know of. No writer would see such an outpouring of admiration only for their books. Bill is a kind and generous man who is a friend to all who take pen in hand to battle the blank page into submission.
I wish I could say I knew Bill better, but I’m proud to call him a friend. Bill’s been extraordinarily kind to me. From stepping up and donating a signed book for my children’s school auction several years back to more recent favors he’s done, Bill has never said no.
When I asked him to join the ranks for the Unloaded 2 anthology, he said yes. When I started my column for the Film Noir Foundation newsletter all about noir fiction, I knew Bill had to be my first guest and he said yes. When I cornered him in Toronto and recorded him for the podcast, he didn’t hesitate, just said yes.
Bill is always quick with a compliment for another writer. He champions unsung books both contemporary and vintage. He gave me my favorite blurb of all time, completely unsolicited. And I don’t say that now in the face of losing Bill soon to cancer, I said it at the time and beyond the kind words, it was who was behind the words that added to my feelings.
Bill is the kind of writer I aspire to be. A craftsman who isn’t pretentious about it. A prolific wordsmith who keeps his head down and keeps churning out the ideas. A master of multiple genres. He bridges the gap between the classic pulp period and today like his contemporaries Lawrence Block, Ed Gorman, Max Allan Collins. Known as one of the nicest guys in the mystery writing world and that is a tall mountain to sit atop.
So it is sad to say goodbye to Bill, but at least we get the chance to let him know how appreciated he is. My story is not unique. He was good to all of us. I’m just glad I have my own stories to tell about Bill. And I will continue to tell them, and to read his words because with those in the world he will never truly be gone. But we’ll still miss him.


Victoria Kemp on Bill Crider

I've never met Bill Crider. I just read his books and then started following him on Facebook. He posted regularly, both as himself on his personal and on his author page. His author page was a fun amalgam of vintage advertisements; songs of the day; announcements about his writing, including his appearances at various mystery cons around the country, not to mention interviews with all his mystery writing buddies. His personal page was a wonderful glimpse into the life of a man who loved his wife (who died too soon) and his cats, the VBKs, Gilligan, Keanu and Ginger Tom. He wrote prolifically, separate series: Sheriff Dan Rhodes; Truman Smith; Carl Burns and Sally Good, not to mention co-authoring books with Willard Scott and several stand-alone westerns. His writing seemed to me to illustrate who he was as a man, plain-spoken and straight-shooting. 

Cancer sucks. It has taken too many people from my life. And, now, I will lose an author whose writing has taken me places I would never go by myself. 

Fuck cancer.

Victoria Kemp


 Terry (Shaimes) has left a new comment on your post "Bill Crider Day on FFB, December 15, 2017":

Patti, I just found this thread this morning, Saturday, and have enjoyed reading all these reminisces. I have a couple of my own to recount. I met Bill at a conference and found out he lived in Alvin, which was close to where I grew up. We had some chat about it. A couple of years later I started looking for an agent for a book I had written. It seemed daunting and it occurred to me that it might be clever to have a "blurb" to put in the query letter. Since I was writing about an older chief of police in a small town in Texas, I thought of Bill. I wrote and asked him if he would consider reading the book and giving me a blurb for my query letter. In typical Bill Crider fashion, he said he'd be glad to, although he didn't know whether it would be worth much! I knew it was worth gold. And it was. The agent I signed with was drawn in by his blurb.

Fast forward a couple of years and a few books under my belt. I was doing a signing at Murder by the Book in Houston, and who walked in, but Bill! I couldn't stop grinning. I couldn't have been happier. What a hero!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Bill Crider Day on FFB, December 15, 2017

 (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 that's not all.  I've even written children's books, including one based on the Wishbone TV show (Muttketeer!) and the award winning Mike Gonzo and the UFO Terror.

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. 

And 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).


It's 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).

I 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).

I've 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 Bill's books.


From Deb Pfeifer


Unlike 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 morning.


Bill’s 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 or book.


I 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.)


It’s 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 tangentially) Bill Crider.


Sharon Lynch

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 
Paul Bishop
Elgin Bleecker, A DANGEROUS THING
Ben Boulden, TOP OF THE WORLD 
Fleur Bradley
Cap'n Bob
Max Allan Collins,
David Cranmer
Scott Cupp
Martin Edwards. Bill 
Barry Ergang, BLACKLIN COUNTY FILES
Curt Evans, EVERYTHING'S MORE MYSTERIOUS IN TEXAS
Lee Goldberg
Ed Gorman, SURVIVORS WILL BE SHOT AGAIN; BLOOD MARKS
Charles Gramlich, BILL CRIDER DAY
John Grant, WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE MURDER
Lesa Holstine
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 
Richard Lupoff
Todd Mason
Richard Moore
Terrie Moran, MURDER OF A BEAUTY SHOP QUEEN; COMPOUND MURDER, 
DEAD TO BEGIN WITH
Karin Montin
Neer, A TIME FOR HANGING 
J.F. Norris, DEAD ON THE ISLAND 
Juri Nummelin, OUTRAGE AT BLANCO 
Scott Parker
Matt Paust, DEAD TO BEGIN WITH
The Rap Sheet, THE BLOG (to come)
Reactions in Reading, TOO LATE TO DIE 
James Reasoner, Best Bill 
Richard Robinson, Bill Crider's Holmes Stories
Janet Rudolph
Gerard Saylor, Bill Crider's Novels 
Charlie Stella
Kevin Tipple,  FAST TRACK (with Ed Gorman), THE BLACKIN COUNTY FILES
TracyK, EVIL AT THE ROOT 
Dave Zeltserman, PIANO MAN 

 Aubrey Hamilton said...
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.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ten Years Ago.

My favorite movies of 2007

Some maybe actually 2006 movies. No special order and no real surprises. These were probably on everyone's lists. What were yours?

Painted Veil
Volver
Zodiac
Lives of Others
First Snow
51 Birch Street
Away From Her
Once
Hairspray
3:10 to Yuma
Gone Baby Gone
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
Starting Out in the Evening
Sweeney Todd

And I remember most of these pretty well. FIRST SNOW I will have to look up though. A decent if not outstanding year. The ones that stayed with me most are THE LIVES OF OTHER and ZODIAC.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Forgotten Movies: PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT


George Roy Hill directed this odd little movie from 1962. Jane Fonda plays a nurse and Jim Hutton a vet suffering from PTSD. Their marriage is sudden and they end up at the home of his former Army buddy played by Tony Franciosa. Tony has his own problems because he married for wealth,
The key to it is the screenplay was written by Tennessee Williams and all of the themes that show up in his plays get a a look-see here: the impotent male, the trouble with Daddies, the hysterical players. Franciosa gives the best performance of the lot. Perhaps because he doesn't lay on a Southern accent with a trowel. Jane Fonda complained her makeup made her unrecognizable and it did. Maybe it was all for the best though. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Graduation Present on Better Things


Things That Make Me Happy





It would be very much easier to tell you the things that made me unhappy this week. There were quite a few. But who needs that right?

Sunday, a nice brunch with my book group (where you know who dominated the talk) and a nice dinner with eight good friends (same topic).  How can we not talk about what now dominates our life.

 I am going to leave it at this. I am very grateful that I have you, some of you stopping by for many years now. I am happy you are willing to share your lives with me. The books you read, the music you listen to, the movies and TV shows you like, the family you share your lives with, all of them are now part of my life. Thanks for being a friend.

What about you?