BILL CRIDER is the author of more than fifty published novels and numerous short stories. He won the Anthony Award for best first mystery novel in 1987 for Too Late to Die. He and his late wife, Judy, won the best short story Anthony in 2002 for their story “Chocolate Moose.” His story “Cranked” from Damn Near Dead (Busted Flush Press) was nominated for the Edgar award, the Anthony Award, and the Derringer Award. It won the latter. He’s won the Golden Duck Award for best juvenile science fiction novel and been nominated for a Shamus. His most recent novel is Between the Living and the Dead from St. Martin’s Press.
Here are a few handy links to where Bill can be found on the Internet:
AND NOW A FEW WORDS FROM BILL CRIDER ABOUT BETWEEN THE LIVING AND THE DEAD:
Thanks for the opportunity to say a few words about my latest mystery novel.
One of the difficult things about writing a series of books that’s continued for 30 years is keeping it fresh both for myself and for the readers. I know that by this time people expect certain things in each book. For me to drop the interplay between certain characters would be like Rex Stout dropping Nero Wolfe’s visits to his orchids in his brownstone’s greenhouse or like Richard S. Prather omitting Shell Scott’s description of the women he encounters. So I keep that kind of thing in the book. Besides, I love writing it.
The books always have to include a murder, too. All my books in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, including Between the Living and the Dead, are set in a small town in a mythical Texas county, the kind of place where the usual crime is something like a salad bar without a sneeze guard. In a place like that, a murder makes things a lot more interesting. I include the small crimes, because those are as much fun to write about as the characters, but I have to put in a murder or two.
So how do I make things different?
For one thing I try to have the murders related to different things, like modern cattle rustling or the prevalence of feral hogs in rural Texas or the terrible stench of factory chicken-farming. For Between the Living and the Dead, I decided to write a book about a haunted house. A good many years ago when I was writing horror novels under a different name, I planned to write a book about a haunted house, but the horror market sort of disappeared before I could do it. I never gave up the idea, however, and when I started thinking about writing another book in the Sheriff Rhodes series, it occurred to me that just about every little town has an old deserted house with a story that local people like to tell about it. Often that story involves a ghost. So why not write a straightforward mystery novel that also includes a haunted house? It seemed like good idea, and I went with it.
Naturally a haunted house has to have a ghost to haunt it, and that led me to the idea of ghost hunters. One day when I was in the Wal-Mart parking lot here where I live in Alvin, Texas, I saw a van with advertisements for ghost hunters painted all over it. If there could be ghost hunters in the real small town where I live, why couldn’t there be ghost hunters in my fictional town? The Sheriff Rhodes books have a continuing character who’d be perfect as a ghost hunter, so I drafted him for the job.
With a haunted house, a ghost, and a ghost hunter lined up and ready to go, all I needed was a murder, and I thought that the perfect place for it to occur would be inside the haunted house. That’s where it happens. I also wanted to give the house some of the usual trappings of haunted houses: spiderwebs, rats, mysterious noises, and even a surprise or two. I did that, too.
In doing all these things, I was able to come up with what I think of as a book that has the same qualities that the previous books in the series have but that also has a different kind of plot and atmosphere. It works for me, and I hope it works for my readers.
The next book in the series, to be published later in 2016, is called Survivors Will Be Shot Again, and it has an entirely different premise. And of course a couple of murders. Something to look forward to!
Life is never easy for Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes. When he is called in the middle of the night to investigate gunshots at a haunted house, Rhodes finds the body of meth dealer Neil Foshee. Recently released from jail, Foshee has his fair share of potential murderers, including former girlfriend Vicki, her new boyfriend, the nephew of Clearview’s mayor, and Foshee’s criminal cousins Earl and Louie.
Complicating matters is Seepy Benton, the community college math professor who has a new summer job. He’s founded Clearview Paranormal Investigations and wants to solve the murder by communing with Foshee’s ghost. But when Benton connects with something else instead and a second body is found, Rhodes is left with more questions than ever. Who’s the dead person? How long has the body been hidden? Is Benton really able to communicate with ghosts? And, most important, what, if anything, does the body have to do with Neil Foshee’s death?
Between the Living and the Dead, Bill Crider’s latest installment in the critically acclaimed Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series, finds Rhodes dealing with ghost hunters, runaway bulls, and assorted low-level crimes, including people’s failure to use their turn signals. It’s all in a day’s work in Clearview, Texas.