Thursday, December 14, 2017

In Review: Bill Crider's Novels

In Review: Bill Crider's Novels.

I started reading Crider novels when I lived in AZ.  I took a Sheriff Dan Rhodes book home, read it, and starting talking to my wife about the joys of bologna sandwiches and Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper with real cane sugar, too. (The TX based Dr. Pepper bottling plant using cane sugar was shut down by Dr. Pepper a few years ago but, I believe, they still bottle a similar recipe made with cane sugar. Look it up yourself if you want more information. You can order online but shipping costs are high.)

The Rhodes novels feature great characters settings. Crider's mysteries were always well thought out. I'm not a reader who tries to figure out the killer before the author reveals the person - but Crider always set things up to make the killer a bit of a surprise. He would always have the killer well hidden.

Rhodes himself is a great character. He is so entirely human and living in his hometown that continues to change around him.  A few years ago I wrote this in some book notes: An easy comparison for this is Rhodes versus Andy Taylor. As a half-hour comedy show Mayberry focused on jokes with character an integral part. Only after viewing several episodes do you recognize what a strong personality Andy was. Balancing his son, work, friends, and romance in a small town where, as Sheriff, everyone feels it's fair to observe and judge him. Andy was always fair even though frequently exasperated and annoyed.

Rhodes gets angry over murder. He is always self-doubting his work and mistakes. He criticizes his work. Did he ask the wrong questions to the wrong people? Should he have recognized something earlier? Could he have done something to stop the 2nd and 3rd murders in the story? He's a worrier at times.

After greatly enjoying that first novel I started reading more Crider novels and looked the author up online. Sure enough I discovered Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine. My first thought was, "Well, I guess you could call that a magazine if you want. But really..." That initial smirk never mattered because I ended up being one of the blog readers who checked the website several times a day for both the posts and the comments.

Heck, I remember the first time I decided to join the blog's online conversation. There was a post about Sam Cooke. I recalled writing that Cooke "could sing the phone book and make it sound good." Well, my memory was a little faulty, but accurate in theme.

As I read more of the blog my reading list started to expand. I also started to buy those novels for the libraries I worked at.Who are some of those writers I learned of through my start with Crider's blog?
Anthony Neil Smith
Victor Gischler
James Reasoner
Vicki Hendricks
Patti Abbott
Megan Abbott
Joe R Lansdale (read before and encouraged to return)
Duane Swierczynski
Brent Ghelfi
Dan Simmons
Jon Clinch's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn prequel
Richard S. Prather
Christa Faust
Charlie Stella
Ed Gorman
Charles Portis
Stephen Gallagher
Ted Wood
Max Allan Collins
The Slocum westerns
Sara Gran
Lee Goldberg
Stuart Neville
Charlie Huston
Peter Rabe
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Johnny Shaw.

Anyhoo. Crider is a good dude.


George said...

Bill Crider read a lot of books and wrote a lot of reviews. I've discovered dozens of books through Bill Crider's blog and his DAPA-EM zine, MACAVITY.

Richard Moore said...

Like you and George, Bill has steered me to many wonderful books and writers. The only major writer on which disagreed was Cornell Woolrich. Bill never carried much for Woolrich under any of his names. As it happens, my love for Woolrich/William Irish has waned in recent years as I am moving toward Bill's viewpoint.