Saturday, February 10, 2018

PaperBack: “Unfinished Crime”

Ever since early December 2017, when Texas educator-turned-author Bill Crider announced in his blog that he was entering home hospice care with terminal cancer, his fans and fellow authors have been cooking up ways to honor this generous, well-loved man and his three-decades-long fiction-writing career. One of the largest celebrations of his work came in mid-December, when Patti Abbott organized a Web-wide series of articles about his books and other stories.
Bill Crider’s Bookshelves
Since then we have also seen Evan Lewis roll out a succession of photos showing Bill and Judy Crider’s appearances at multiple Bouchercons over the years. And Spinetingler Magazine’s Brian Lindenmuth recently launched a new blog, Palomino Mugging, that he calls “a spiritual successor to Bill Crider’s blog.”

As Rap Sheet readers know, I am a longtime fan of Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine, the blog this 76-year-old fictionist wrote from July 2002 until early last December. I count my paean to that site as one of my favorite posts of 2017, no matter how sad it was to assemble. But writing it never seemed like a sufficient salute. So I’ve decided to continue a feature on this page that Crider originally debuted on his own, and which eventually gathered a large following. Consider this my small way of extending his legacy.

From what I can discern, Crider’s first “PaperBack” post appeared—with no fanfare or explanation—on September 7, 2010. It showed the rear cover, but not the front, from the 1955 Graphic Mystery edition of Unfinished Crime, by “Helen McCloy” (née Helen Clarkson). He would continue inserting such back-jacket art into his blog on a regular basis until March 10, 2011, when he posted both the fore and aft sides of The Lustful Ape, by “Russell Gray,” aka Bruno Fisher (Lion, 1950). “When I started this feature,” Crider explained at the time, “my idea was that the front covers of paperbacks were easy to find (BookScans is a great place) but that back covers were another story. However, I’ve been flooded with requests (okay, maybe trickled with requests) to show both front and back covers. I’m going to try it for a while and see how it goes.” He never went back to presenting only the reverse sides of books; his final “PaperBack” post showcased The River and the Dream, by Raymond F. Jones (Laser, 1977).

Now, I don’t have a vintage paperback library nearly as extensive as Bill Crider’s. However, I definitely own more than my fair share of such works, and I can also claim thousands of scans in my computer files showing books that are not on my shelves. Armed with those resources, and in salute to Crider—who I hope will, despite his failing health, be told of this venture—I am today restarting his “PaperBack” feature in The Rap Sheet. I don’t know how long this project will continue, and I will not be posting these façades on a daily basis (as Crider did), but I’ve given myself a full year to experiment with this idea. To repeat Bill’s words, we’ll “see how it goes.”

Let’s begin where Crider did, with McCloy’s Unfinished Crime. Only this time, you’re getting both the front and back faces of that edition.

As we move forward, I shall draw from my own collections and concentrate on crime and thriller fiction, though other novels may sneak into the mix now and then. Whenever I know the artist responsible for a cover illustration, I’ll make mention of it. Please tell me what you think of this new Rap Sheet series as it progresses.

READ MORE:Bill Crider, R.I.P.,” by J. Kingston Pierce
(The Rap Sheet).


Kevin R. Tipple said...

I think it is very cool. Thank you.

Gerard Saylor said...

Neat. I did not know of PALIMINO MUGGING.

Jerry House said...

A good homage to a good man.

Janet Rudolph said...

Excellent..a wonderful tribute and a great feature. Looking forward to more posts!

Evan Lewis said...

Great idea. I'm sure Bill will approve.

Lesa said...

A wonderful idea. I love all the on-going tributes to Bill.

Todd Mason said...

What Jerry and everyone else said. A good thing to continue.

Icewineanne said...

Thanks for the wonderful posts. I was fortunate to have seen Bill at Bouchercon in Toronto last year. A treasured memory.

Anonymous said...

Bill was a gentleman. Great to see this feature.

RIP Bill.