Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bill Crider

Bill Crider is the winner of two Anthony Awards and an Edgar Award finalist. An English college professor for many years, he’s published more than seventy-five crime, Western, and horror novels, as well as a number of children’s books.

His new novel is Compound Murder, the 18th Dan Rhodes Mystery.

A couple of weeks ago I asked the author about what he was reading.  Crider's reply:
I'm currently reading The Kill, a 1985 private-eye novel by Douglas Heyes. If you do a search for Heyes on the Internet, you'll find mostly references to his TV and movie work. He was a writer, producer, and occasionally an actor. He worked on some well-known movies and some obscure ones. The Wikipedia article on Heyes doesn't even mention his fiction writing, though your search might have turned up my review of The Kiss-Off, his first crime novel, and a review by J. Kingston Pierce of The Kill. By coincidence, both reviews appeared the same week in 2011.

The Kill is set in Los Angeles in 1938, and the setting is convincing. So is the writing style., which is obviously a tribute to the pulps of that era. Except for some up-to-date cussing, it's as if the book had been written 80 years ago. I was grabbed by the opening paragraphs:
I won't be taken alive.

Not that I wouldn't rather be.
Obviously the narrator, Rip Ripley, is in big trouble, and the book tells us how he got there. He's a former corrupt cop, now a P. I. with something of a conscience. He's flat broke and is about to try a sad trick to make some money when he's hired to investigate an old friend's mistress. Before he can even talk to her, she's murdered, and Ripley, believe it or not, is accused of the crime.

Things go downhill from there, and while I haven't reached the final paragraph, I'm certainly ready to believe the Ripley might not get out of the mess he's in. For a long-time fan of hardboiled noir fiction, The Kill is a treat.
Visit Bill Crider's website and blog.

Ed Gorman has praised Crider's "skills with characterization and milieu" and called the author "a master plotter."

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder, Murder Among the OWLS, Of All Sad Words, Murder in Four Parts, Murder in the Air, The Wild Hog Murders, and Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen.

Learn about Crider's choice of actors to portray Dan Rhodes on the big screen.

--Marshal Zeringue