Sunday, March 4, 2007

Bill Crider's "Murder Among the OWLS"

Bill Crider is the author of fourteen Sheriff Dan Rhodes novels -- Murder Among the OWLS is the most recent -- and that's only a slice of his literary output.

Here he shares his thoughts about who would be great for the role of Dan in the film version of the novels:
When the first Sheriff Dan Rhodes novel, Too Late to Die, was published in 1986, I was sure it would be snapped up for the movies any day. Which shows how little I knew about Hollywood and options and my chance of ever having a movie made of one of my books. At any rate, almost as soon as the book was accepted, I decided that I wanted James Garner to play Rhodes. I thought he’d be perfect, with his laid-back ways and his ironic grin.

As the years passed and Hollywood remained oblivious to the charms of the Rhodes books, I clung to the idea that someday Garner would play the role. Someone would hand him the book, and he’d a few pages and say, “Hey, this Rhodes guy is tailor-made for me. Somebody call Bill Crider’s agent right now!”

As more years passed, I finally realized that it wasn’t going to happen. And that Garner was getting a little too old for the part. Rhodes, unlike some characters in modern mysteries, doesn’t age much. Even if he did, Garner might still be too old, and he’s too banged up from playing Jim Rockford to do much running around. So that little dream is ended.

While I was waiting for some major studio to come to its senses and option the books, James Drury, who lives in the Houston area, expressed an interest in playing Rhodes. That was fine with me. The Virginian was just the kind of guy Rhodes would have been if he’d lived in the 19th century, or so I liked to think. I met with Drury a couple of times, which was fun, but the movie deal we hoped for never materialized.

Now more than twenty years have gone by since Sheriff Rhodes first appeared in print, and Murder Among the OWLS is the fourteenth book in the series. Still nobody has had the good sense to option the novels for film. My current fantasy is that Tom Selleck will happen upon a copy of one of the books, maybe even this latest one, and decide that he just has to play Dan Rhodes. He’ll think, “These Jesse Stone movies I’m doing for CBS are making the big bucks, but they’re a little dark. It’s time I lightened up, showed a little of that Magnum side of me again.”

And it’s not like there are fourteen Jesse Stone books out there. Selleck needs to be looking for a new vehicle, and Sheriff Rhodes could carry him for seven more years if he did two a year. By that time Rhodes would have been in four or five more books if St. Martin’s continues to publish them. Plenty for another few movies.

So for right now, Tom Selleck is the guy. But he’d better hurry up and option the books. If he doesn’t, he’s going to be too old for the part.
Read more about Murder Among the OWLS, and check out the Page 69 Test results for it and its most recent predecessor, A Mammoth Murder.

--Marshal Zeringue