Even if you have only a marginal connection to the mystery world, you cannot have missed hearing that David Thompson died this past Monday, just a few weeks short of his 39th birthday.
I don’t remember which book I was touring with the first time I visited Murder by the Book, the mystery book store in Houston, but David was already working there as a part-timer. He was a slightly nerdy, goofy-looking, book-loving kid and I remember how he was almost shy because he so admired published authors.
Through the years, I watched him fall more and more in love with mysteries as he matured, became a full-time employee of the store, then manager after Dean James left. He finally married the new owner, McKenna Jordan. He started Busted Flush Press to bring back books he thought should never have been allowed to go out of print and he only recently merged the press with Tyrus Books.
We saw each other at conferences and were friendly, but I would be claiming too much if I said we were close friends. Happily—or so I thought— that was starting to change. We were in negotiations about my out-of-print Sigrid Harald series and my first standalone, Bloody Kin, was already in production, due to be released next spring in time for Malice Domestic. Only last week, we had sent emails back and forth about the new cover. When I thought the first concept was too gory, he immediately sent a more appropriate version and I thought how much fun it was going to be to work with someone this sensitive to nuances.
He leaves a huge hole in the lives of his close friends. The pain and ache expressed in their tributes is enough to tear your heart out. What can’t be measured is the size of the hole he would have filled in years to come as his influence spread: the books he would have published, the writers he would have discovered, the service he would have rendered to the mystery community. I can almost hear the speech he would have made when the Mystery Writers of America awarded him a well-deserved Raven twenty years from now.
He was still a kid, dammit, with a kid’s enthusiasm for all that was still to come and now will never be. We’ll never really know just how much we’ve missed by his early leaving.