I'm not going to tell you.
Sorry, nary a hint. You'll have to find it on your own. Ordinarily
that shouldn't be too hard, considering there are only twenty
stories. The catch is each story’s so damned good it might come
down to flipping a coin to determine which is your favorite. The
thing about mine is it’s so different it caught me by surprise.
Some of you might disagree that being different is enough to win
the contest, and ordinarily I would agree. But that is only what
caught my eye. The story itself then went ahead and did its job on
me. I shall probably never see crime fiction quite the same ever
again. So why not tell you? Why make you work for it? First of all,
reading these stories isn’t work. It’s pure pleasure. Secondly,
my preference might trigger contrariness in some readers, and I
wouldn’t want to do that. Sheriff Rhodes wouldn’t do that, nor
would Bill, his creator.
Bill Crider left us three years ago, and this collection, Bullets and Other Hurting Things, is a tribute to his memory by fellow writers. I knew him through the several Sheriff Rhodes mysteries I read of the eighteen he published, and through his blog, on which he participated daily and where he befriended all who stopped by to chat.
Many of the contributors to this book are well-known crime writers themselves—Bill Pronzini, Sara Paretsky, Robert J. Randisi, Patricia Abbot, and Ben Boulden, to name those I immediately recognized. Boulden, whose longtime blog, Gravetapping, was tapped to take over Bill Crider’s short-story column in Mystery Scene magazine after Bill left us.
One of the contributors is Bill’s daughter, Angela Crider Neary, whose story, High Time for Murder, eased the Crider style into a new generational milieu. In an introduction to Bullets and Other Hurting Things, Ms. Neary tells us her dad was mysterious in his own right: “Bill Crider was a man of mystery. Not just in the sense that he was the author of dozens and dozens of mystery novels and short stories, but by virtue of the fact that he was often a quiet and private person — even around his own family. So, even though I’m his daughter, I’ll confess that I know less about him than I wish I did. As he was coming into his own as a writer and expert in the area of crime and mystery fiction, he didn’t share a lot of insights into who he was with me. . .I find out something new about him every time I read an article or a work of fiction he wrote. . .He once told me that he was much more comfortable speaking in front of a large audience than being in an intimate setting with a few people he didn’t know well. Invariably I had to warn boyfriends who met him, ‘He’s very quiet. Don’t take it personally’. . .”
Hardboiled/noir author Rick Ollerman, who edited the collection, said he invited the contributors here to “write about small-town crime, hard-boiled PIs, or really just anything they thought Bill might have gotten a kick out of.” I’ve no doubt Bill would have gotten more than a kick out of these stories. I sure as hell did. And these stories introduced me to several writers new to me, writers I intend to look up and read more of their work. Too, the nostalgia bug bit me while reading this collection, reminding me it’s time to download more Sheriff Rhodes mysteries.
Did I mention Graham Greene? I don’t believe I did. He’s long gone, as well, and by amazing coincidence I’ve just reread The Quiet American, and was reminded again of his subtle, genteel style while reading one of the stories in Bullets and Other Hurting Things. In fact, by gosh, that’s the one I mentioned up above, the one you’ll have to find on your own. There. A hint. The only one you’re getting from me!
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