Sunday, September 26, 2004

Hard Case Crime

The Houston Chronicle has a nice spread on Hard Case Crime today. Front page of the Zest magazine, and two pages inside. As a sidebar on another page, there's a little article on me. Here it is.

The man with a taste for the hard-boiled

Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

ALVIN -- Mystery writer and vintage paperback collector Bill Crider has a recurring dream.

"I'm driving in some small town, and there's this little out-of-the-way bookstore. I go in, and there it is, full of these old books."

Carlos Javier Sanchez : Chronicle
Alvin resident Bill Crider has written more than fifty books about different detectives.

But anyone who reads noir crime thrillers knows that dreams usually become nightmares in the final chapter.

"The bad part is," Crider says, "I can't read the titles."

Crider's suburban home is like the dream bookstore -- floor-to-ceiling with thousands of vintage paperback books.

"My wife Judy is a saint, believe me," he says.

Crider, 63, has a definite taste for the era of bad blondes, big guns and tough guys.

"I got interested in the writers who wrote (crime) paperback originals, like Jim Thompson, Harry Whittington, Gil Brewer, Charles Williams, Donald Hamilton -- particularly the (Fawcett) Gold Medal books, the Ace Double books. I have all of those."

Since the mid-1980s, the retired English professor has published more than 50 novels (see Many are mysteries -- though not the hard-boiled style he collects -- under his own name, including a dozen about modern Texas sheriff Dan Rhodes. This summer brought Dead Soldiers featuring Carl Burns, an English professor at a small Texas college.

Crider also writes under pen and house names and does Willard Scott's weatherman mysteries, as the TV star freely admits. Crider's wife is his copy reader and occasional collaborator.

But book collecting is his passion. His essay on his first love, paperback originals, is at

"There are a lot of reasons I like them," Crider says. "They're short. Most writers in this vein are really good storytellers. They get in, tell the story; it moves fast. They do a good job with the characters in a short space."

Crider used to haunt used bookstores looking for rare paperbacks. Now he buys most over the Internet, especially at and

"It's gotten so easy," he says. "And the books have gotten much more expensive. The Jim Thompson books I got for a dime are worth a couple of hundred bucks now."

Not that he'd ever sell them.


Aldo said...

That was a very nice article. I wish my wife was more understanding about my collecting passion. Maybe when all the kids are out of the house I can dedicate a room for all my first editions and new found paperback addiction

James Reasoner said...


I've had that bookstore dream more times than I can remember. And it's very vivid -- I know exactly what the town looks like, I know what the store looks like, I even know how the shelves are arranged. In my case, though, there are pulps as well as old paperbacks. Tons and tons of pulps. I can read them, though, so my dream has a happy ending. And I'm convinced that one of these days, I'll find that store.

Jayme Lynn Blaschke said...

Nice writeup, Bill. Now you have to watch Amazon and see if there's a sudden spike in your sales rankings! :-)

vikk simmons said...

Well, I should have known I'd run into you somewhere in the blogosphere. Great blog. And I don't know how I could have missed the article.