“Bill Crider (1941–2018)”
by Scott Cupp
Bill Crider was an amazing person. At various times he was a dad, a singer in a barbershop quartet, a walker, a book collector, a fan of Mexican food, a lover of horror movies, an aficionado of Sherlock Holmes, a professor, and a writer who, in the mid-1980s decided to do that gig and managed to produce more than 60 books in roughly 35 years.
His knowledge of mystery novels was phenomenal. An early collector of Jim Thomson he soon ran out of those to collect and so branched out to love a variety of novels, particularly those lovely paperbacks that began appearing shortly before World War II and continuing on until the mid-1970s. There were few things he loved more than visiting old book stores and upon entry, sniffing the air for the telltale rotting paper, finding the old paperbacks which were rarely more than 50 cents.
And he read voraciously in the mystery and science fiction fields, He wrote for a number of fanzines during the years and was a regular contributor to the mystery collecting group, DAPA-EM. He could talk for hours about his favorites and remember well books he had read decades before.
He also wrote a lot in a variety of fields. Without a doubt, his greatest love was the mystery field, including the 25 novels or so in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series. Sheriff Rhodes lived in a small Texas town that had more than its share of odd people and murders.
But that was not his only mystery series. He wrote multiple books featuring Carl Burns, Truman Smith Private Eye, Professor Sally Good, Ellie Taine, and Mike Gonzo.
He also wrote western novels, science fiction, thrillers, and short fiction under his own name and horror novels (as Jack MacLane) as well as three novels with Steve Mertz (as Jack Buchanan) in the MIA Hunter series. And there were two novels featuring Stanley Waters he ghosted for Willard Scott. Apparently, Scott was so impressed with the results that he decided that Crider deserved credit on the covers of the books.
He also had an exemplary blog page that was required reading for anyone interested in his thoughts on anything. And that page had links to another 40 or 50 blog pages that were worth checking out. I first met Bill sometime in the late 1970s when I was selling used paperbacks at the annual AggieCons. I sold science fiction and horror mostly, but there were always older paperbacks and mysteries under the table. Bill was down below with his friend Billy, rooting through the titles. He would ask about Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Charles Williams and other Gold Medal writers. As we talked we discovered we had lots in common and we became friends.
At the time, Bill was a college professor at Howard Paine University in Brownwood, Texas which was a long way from AggieCon and from me in my various locations over the years. He later moved to a community college in Alvin, Texas which is near the Gulf Coast and Houston.
We talked a lot over the years. Periodically I would work in the Houston area and go over to visit Bill and the amazing Judy, whom he had met on a blind date. They were together for 49 years until her death in 2014. I miss them both a lot these days.