In 1978 the Chicago Daily News went out of business and its staff was merged with the staff of the paper down the hall, the Sun-Times. A number of journalists at both papers lost their jobs in the process; I was one and Bill Granger was another. My response was anguish, his was contempt. I went off to Europe for a while, he pulled up his socks and started writing books. He had a family to support. In the next 17 years he wrote and published 28 books, most of them thrillers. He wrote under three names, his own, “Bill Griffith,” and “Joe Gash.” He collaborated on two books with his wife Lori, a lawyer. Most critics would probably say his best book was Public Murders, a 1980 procedural set in Chicago that won an Edgar Award. My favorite was Sweeps, a send-up of network television, a world he’d encountered while TV critic of the Sun-Times. The killer reminded me a lot of Charles Kuralt.
“I’ve written eight books in three years,” he told the Milwaukee Journal’s book editor in 1983. “Fear is a great motivator—I have to pay the mortgage.” There was talk of movie adaptations, but they weren’t made. At different times he contributed columns to the Tribune and to the Daily Herald—to keep his hand in and, I guess, because the movies weren’t made.