David Thompson died yesterday. He was a sweet, ebullient man who helped to run Murder by the Book in Houston. In his honor, I spent the day away from Facebook, although that was kind of ass-backwards. It was because of Facebook, indirectly, that I first learned of his death. Because of Facebook, I had more regular contact with him than I might have otherwise; we had IM’ed just a week or so ago. And his Facebook page is an interesting testament to the man. His last two posts included a status update about Bouchercon 2011, which he was going to help run, and a photo of his just-washed dog, Jack Reacher.
Still, I walked away from Facebook because I have too much fun there and I didn’t want to have fun today. Luckily, I had galleys to proof. (Rimshot.) I worked my way through the remaining pages of “The Girl in a Green Raincoat.”
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that “Girl” solves the book’s essential mystery in the penultimate chapter only to present Tess Monaghan with a much more personal life-or-death situation in the final chapter. I’ve read that chapter a lot since I first wrote it in 2008. But I’ve never cried so hard as I did today. I couldn’t help thinking of Emily’s words — well, Thornton Wilder’s words — in Our Town: “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?”
The friend who alerted me about David’s death happened to give me some good advice about domestic matters. Where I could, he said, I should throw money at any problem if it meant spending more time with family. To which I will say only: Yep.
We love crime novels, in part, because they make sense of something that sometimes makes no sense at all, sudden death. I don’t know a writer gifted enough who can make sense of the loss of David Thompson.