Today is a sad day in the mystery/crime writing world; very sad. If you are part of this community, this is no news to you, but a man I didn’t know as well as I’m sure I eventually would have, but still called my friend, passed away suddenly yesterday; David Thompson of Busted Flush Press, and Murder By the Book bookstore in Houston. It’s a loss that is still reverberating through the tight-knit group of people who were fortunate to know him.
I met David just about a year ago. I was new to the whole crime writing thing, and still exploring and learning about the various authors and must-read books. I was in Houston for work, and visited the store. I knew David worked there, but didn’t know him, had never even spoken with him. That changed. I looked around the shop and had a couple books in my hands at checkout. He immediately engaged me in conversation, and before long we were chattering away like old friends. His enthusiasm for books and writing was infectious, and I was filled with an energy to attack my own work with renewed vigor. I walked out of the store loaded down with books that introduced brand new waves of book-geek excitement, as well as new authors I’d never read; Dan Simmons‘ Joe Kurtz crime books. Megan Abbott. Tom Piccirilli. I was after a Duane Swierczynski book and left with three (Duane’s own tribute to David is a must read). Hell, David’s enthusiasm for Swierczynski has made me such a fan that I’ve written the man’s name so much over the last year that I don’t even need to check the spelling anymore.
Since then I’ve been in weekly contact with David. When I told him I had a novella coming out next spring, he extended an open invitation to do a reading. He hit me with book recommendations he thought I might like, remembering the stuff I was into. He’d sometimes see me on Facebook and just start a “how’s it going” chat. He was on me constantly about registering for NoirCon, and meeting up with him again to knock back a couple beers was one of the things I was looking forward to most. He was just a straight-up, genuine kind of guy that was quick to offer support and encouragement with my own writing.
All of this kindness he showed a guy who just happened to show up in his store with a bunch of enthusiasm for something he was also passionate about. It speaks to the strength of this writing community, something so weird to me coming from the generally cutthroat and jealousy-ridden world of independent music. I’ve met some great people through Mr. Thompson, and I am very sad that I won’t be able to have that beer with him.
Based on the tributes various people have posted of their own — like this one, or this one, or this one, and this one too — it is clear the man influenced many people every bit as much as he influenced me. Like I said, today is a sad day. He was a well-loved man that will be remembered for a long time. I feel for his close friends and his family. He will be missed.