I don’t really know how to write this, so I’m just going to begin with the bottom line: Rap Sheet contributor and Chicago Tribune crime-fiction critic Dick Adler, whose serial novel, Men’s Adventure, has been running in this blog since late January, sent me a note earlier today, informing me that he’s “just been in the hospital with some major problems,” and will be unable to continue work on that novel. When I asked him to elaborate on what he means by “major problems,” Dick wrote, vaguely, that he’s suffering from “‘the brain not working the way a writer’s should’ syndrome. ... Should have warned you, but I didn’t know how serious they’d turn out. Anyway, many apologies--to you and Rap Sheet readers.”
I have to admit that I feared something might be wrong with Dick. I’d noticed that he hadn’t been updating his blogs Paperback Mysteries and Paperback Thrillers lately. And when I announced here, almost two weeks ago, that there was going to be a delay in posting Chapter 5 of Men’s Adventure, it was because I’d had some difficulty communicating with Dick about rewrites on the chapter. He seemed not to be responding in his usual prompt way, and lacked his customary enthusiasm for the project. Little did I know that he’d been in the hospital. I feel bad now for pestering him.
As most of you know, 69-year-old Dick Adler is a longtime fan and promoter of this genre. I originally got to know his byline when he wrote for TV Guide, back in the 1970s. (Click here to read an interview he did with Dragnet creator Jack Webb in 1972, and here for an article he penned in that same year about Bonanza’s strategy for recovery following the death of Dan “Hoss” Blocker.) But his career extends well before that, to stints at newspapers and magazines in New York City and London. As he explained to me not long ago, he began his editing career in 1956 at Argosy, a once-popular “men’s magazine” (and my maternal grandfather’s favorite mag, by the way) that served as his model for Viking, the periodical at the center of his Rap Sheet serial novel. Dick is also the author of an e-book called The Mozart Code (1999), and he wrote, with former California Governor Edmund G. (“Pat”) Brown, a non-fiction work called Public Justice, Private Mercy: A Governor’s Education on Death Row (1989). His most recent book is Dreams of Justice: Mysteries as Social Documents, a collection of his reviews and his essays, published by Poisoned Pen Press in 2005. To honor his excellence in mystery-fiction reviewing, the American Crime Writers League last year gave Dick its coveted Ellen Nehr Award.
I was thrilled when Dick Adler agreed to become a regular contributor to The Rap Sheet, and I continue to be in awe of his accomplishments--and optimistic about his future. I hope he can return soon to finish work on Men’s Adventure. (I, for one, want to know how the tale turns out. And many readers have written in over the last few weeks, saying that they’ve been enjoying Dick’s serial novel, as well.) However, his immediate future seems uncertain. He tells me that he’ll “probably ... need to go back” into the hospital. When I ask how soon he might be able to continue his writing, he says simply: “Really don’t know--if at all ...”
As I remarked before, I’m not sure how to write this thing. I only know that those of us here at The Rap Sheet send Dick our very best wishes and our hopes for his speedy recovery. Our hearts go out, too, to his wife, Jane, as well as their two grown children and their families in San Francisco. Those words will have to do.
Well, maybe one more thing. As I figure it, the best way to honor a prolific wordsmith like Dick Adler is to read what he’s accomplished in print. So, if you haven’t been keeping up with Men’s Adventure, the archives can be found here. The read is worth it.