Ten years ago I was writing the mystery blog for a large book retailer and was overwhelmed with titles sent to me by publishers, publicists and authors out there hustling for themselves. There was zero chance I’d ever get to a quarter of them, but I felt the stacks of the unread calling to me in my sleep and in every moment that I was trying to do anything other than give them a fraction of the attention their creators had.
Most of them were terrible. They sapped my energy, made a
lot of noise and clogged the pipeline that I wanted so badly to send a few
under-served titles and writers through toward a larger audience and wider
recognition. Once in a while though I’d get my hands and my eyes on something I
could champion and it powered me through the next score of tepid thrillers I
was running out of ways to say they weren’t worth reading.
One of those authors was Frank Wheeler Jr.
It was something rather than
His second novel, The Good Life, even more so.
When they visited St. Louis for a Noir at the Bar event it
felt like we had been friends for a long, long time, and I looked forward to
many more books from Frank and visits with the two of them, but I’m learning
that it usually doesn’t work the way I want it to regardless the intensity and
pitch of my desire.
Cancer took Frank last week. He died surrounded by family
only a few months after a surprise diagnosis at the age of 43.
I want to fail all the field sobriety tests you’d give me at parties again. I want to bust your balls about that video of you getting tazed during a police training course. The look of disappointment in your eyes as the volts hit you, the way you clearly regret everything as you seize up and crumple to the floor… I never got tired of watching that shit and bringing it up at every opportunity to embarrass you.
I love you, man. I’m glad that I knew you.
Please keep Marie in your prayers.
I know that Frank was well-regarded in the writing community by those that he knew, and I think he enjoyed most of you, but I don't think you can ever spread the love too thick. I'm sorry that I don't express it often or well enough, but please know that I love you too.