Bill Crider

December 12th, 2017 by Max Allan Collins

Bill and Judy Crider

My friend Bill Crider posted this on his “Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine,” which has been my favorite blog for many years now.

Things could change, but I suspect this will be my final post on the blog. I met with some doctors at M. D. Anderson today, and they suggested that I enter hospice care. A few weeks, a few months is about all I have left. The blog has been a tremendous source of pleasure to me over the years, and I’ve made a lot of friends here. My only regret is that I have several unreviewed books, including Lawrence Block’ fine new anthology, Alive in Shape and Color, and Max Allan Collins’ latest collaboration with Mickey Spillane, The Last Stand, which is a collection of two novellas, “A Bullet for Satisfaction,” an early Spillane manuscript with an interesting history, and “The Last Stand,” the last thing that Spillane completed. It saddens me to think of all the great books by many writers that I’ll never read. But I’ve had a great life, and my readers have been a big part of it. Much love to you all.

Bill has been battling cancer for a while now, and has just gone into hospice. He lost his beloved wife Judy a while back, but even then he was a positive voice in the wilderness. The news of his illness, of its severity, has rocked the world of mystery fiction – and that’s not an exaggeration. People love this guy. I love this guy.

Many posts on the Net are going up to recommend books by Bill, and you should indeed seek out his fiction in both the mystery and western fields. He has made for himself a particularly admirable career, as a smoothly professional storyteller, but he has never got his due.

Though he’s well-known in the field, and has attended the occasional convention (lately, Bouchercon, despite his health issues), he has stayed close to his Texas home over the years. As someone who has lived his entire life in Muscatine, Iowa, I can identify with that.

I can identify with so much about Bill (and my apologies if this piece briefly becomes about me).

But we both are lovers of mystery and crime fiction, with a special affection for the mid-last-century variety. He knows a lot more about it than I do, though, and I know plenty. I have a wonderful book collection, but if Bill weren’t such a nice guy, he would laugh at me, knowing what he has gathered in his decades of collecting.

Like Bill, I am of the first generation of fans who became professionals. The writers we most admire were never fans, just professional writers who were trying to make a living, and many of them, along the way, became artists. We both have had health problems in the last several years, and each has encouraged the other. Bill was married a long time to a wonderful woman. When he lost Judy, the thought of ever losing Barb sent a sharp pain cutting through me that only for a moment matched what he’s had to live with.

Enough about me, or us, or whatever.

The blog entry above, which Bill says is likely to be his last, touched me greatly. Going through what he is, his only regret is not reviewing something of mine (or mine and Mickey’s)? That may define, for me, bittersweet. That I figure anywhere in his thoughts about now almost embarrasses me.

Looks like Bill Crider the reviewer is no longer going to review me, and damnit, he likes my stuff. We need more like him, not less!

I had that same selfish thought when Ed Gorman left us. In frankness, Ed and I were closer than Bill and I. That’s unusual, because Ed’s relationships with other writers happened almost exclusively on the phone. But I live in Iowa, and so did Ed, only sixty miles away, so we got together now and then. Even did bookstore appearances together. He was one of my best friends – not just writer friends.

So Bill regrets not reviewing my latest. Well, here is what I regret. I regret that we were not better friends. Does that sound like we aren’t friends? Well, we are. But frankly it’s been in that friendly-acquaintances way, until just the last few years anyway. He was one of the writers I know to speak to at a convention, who I always stand and chat with, and go away thinking, “I wish I lived closer to that guy so we could hang.” And not in the western way.

So Bill and I exchanged e-mails, and maybe a phone call or two. I know I went to him when I was suddenly going to be writing a western. If anybody knew this stuff, it was Bill Crider.

I don’t remember the question, but I remember the answer.

“I have no idea,” he said.

An honest writer. We can’t afford to lose many of those, either.

Bill Crider, I wish we’d been able to hang together. Instead of separately.

* * *

Here’s a nice Quarry’s Climax review.

Quarry’s War is racking up a number of solid reviews, like this one.

And this one.

And finally this one.


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9 Responses to “Bill Crider”

  1. Patti Abbott says:

    Thanks so much for this. I am going to post the link first on my blog on Friday. If he is able, I want him to read it first. I am sure knowing he meant so much to you will mean much to him.

  2. Stephen Mertz says:

    This is the best piece I’ve read about our friend, Bill, in that it so well conveys what so many of us feel. Thanks for writing.

  3. Glen Davis says:

    Sad, sad, news.

  4. Max Allan Collins says:

    Bill read it and responded warmly to me.

    Steve — your comments mean a great deal.

  5. Greg Daniel says:

    Bill Crider is definitely one of the good guys. He is actually the reason I visit your website and many others. Now i probably came here a time or two before, as I was familiar with your work before I was Bill’s, but his wonderful “Pop Culture Magazine” is an amazing repository of posts & links of wonder & merriment that serves as a great launching point for my web surfing day. I still start every day there, hoping there will be a new post but still appreciative of the live links.

  6. Howard says:

    Thanks, Max, for this great tribute to Bill. Many of us never got to meet the man, but we read his books and his blog and share some of his many interests and count him as a friend.

  7. Max Allan Collins says:

    Thank you, everyone. This wasn’t an easy one to write. I tried to have the same kind of low-key dignity that Bill has always expressed, and if I came within a country mile, I’m satisfied.

  8. Randy Clark says:

    In addition to the westerns and the mystery novels, I enjoyed the five horror novels Crider wrote under the name Jack MacLane. I went on his blog once and mentioned how much I liked them and the horror novels Ed Gorman wrote as Daniel Ransom; Crider said that the Ransom novels had inspired him to write the MacLane books.

  9. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Thanks. It’s so hard for those of us who know Bill well (and knew Judy) to even come to grips with the possibility of this world – our world – without him. I’ve known him (first through DAPA-EM) for 40 years, and like everyone else who really knew him, have wonderful personal memories of time spent with him, like the time I took him to see the MOONSTRUCK house in Brooklyn Heights after the Edgars in 1988, with a stop to see the outside of Cammereri’s Bakery, where one of his heroes, Nicolas Cage, supposedly worked in that movie. It was also a thrill to have a Sheriff Rhodes book dedicated to me. But once you start down that road, it’s hard to stop. I hope we all have the chance to make more memories in the future, but if we don’t, we will never, ever forget him.