I recently finished a book by a friend of mine, Rick Hanson, who’d passed away Feb 2, 2001. We’d met in the early 1990s, at a Pikes Peak Writers Conference, in Colorado Springs, CO. In one of the conference sessions, we writers were reading portions of our work to editors and agents—as well as the entire room. We had people keep track of time as other writers read, since there were many who needed to read and we had a limited amount of time in which to get them all in. Rick was reading the opening pages to his manuscript, Spare Parts, and I was the timer for that session. As I remember my first impressions of him, he was quiet-ish and unassuming, an extremely friendly guy. So we all settle in, Rick gets up front, begins reading, and I begin timing:
“Never disembowel yourself with a claw hammer and never speak to Margot before noon.” *
This was the opening line to his first novel, Spare Parts. The room started laughing and kept on laughing the entire time. And I had the unenviable duty of having to call his time when it ran out. That wasn’t easy, I did it—but I wanted to hear more!
As luck (I don’t believe in “luck”) would have it, his manuscript was snatched up by Denise Little, for Kensington Publishing. Rick went on to publish five Adam McCleet books Spare Parts, Mortal Remains, Still Life, Splitting Heirs, and Extreme Odds, before pancreatic cancer took his life. Rick had later married Cassie Miles, who I also knew, and the two of them were the perfect pair, both fun loving and happy and I always remember them laughing. Before his death, he and his wife had made one more road trip up to the Northwest.
So, over the years, I’d read the first four books a couple times, but for some odd reason, it wasn’t until several years ago that I realized there was one more book of his out there I’d missed. Life kept getting in the way, I kept forgetting to search for it—whatever—but I finally did buy it a couple weeks ago, and read it last week. Good Lord, it was hilarious! It’s a whacky story (I love “whacky”) about a real-estate huckster who creates his own country…within the state of Oregon. Called Bob. What about Bob, you ask? Bob comes complete with its own security (and a trailer for a jail), financial system (how many bobs in a U.S. dollar—or is it the other way around?), radio station (K-BOB), and a different kind of “Bambi.” It made me realize how much I miss the guy! He was funny and I went to as many of his book signings as I could. The first four of his books are autographed, with my favorite autograph of all time on his Spare Parts. It reads “Thanks for buying my books. I need the money real bad.” This was so like him. And as I read Extreme Odds, I couldn’t help but notice the “death” themes running throughout the book, and wondered if he knew at that time in his life he had cancer. It made reading the last two lines of the book even more poignant. I still wonder at how I’d missed his last book, but I’m glad I’d finally found it and was able to “rediscover” this last work of his and enjoy it!
*Taken from Spare Parts, published by Pinnacle Mystery, 1994