Monday, October 3, 2016

Survivors Will Be Shot Again by Bill Crider

©2016 Minotaur Books, New York

Blacklin County Texas is finally settling in to the quiet Mayberry-like existence that it should enjoy, so Sheriff Dan Rhodes has decided to take a long overdue day off. But when a would-be thief descends on the same convenience store Rhodes has entered to end his hiatus from drinking Dr Pepper, days off vanish from his mind.

It's just as well, because a crime ring has been operating on the outskirts of the county. Billy Bacon, who’s been the victim of thieves on his property over and over again, has called in another incident on his place. This time, the sheriff finds not only an empty space where Billy’s heirloom saddle should be, but also the body of Bacon’s neighbor, Melvin Hunt.

As usual, readers are treated to the squad-room banter of Hack and Lawton, even though Hack is convinced that the high sheriff intentionally keeps his dispatcher “out of the loop.” There is also high adventure as Rhodes heroically wrestles a “prehistoric turtle” and rids Clearview of the scourge of illegal marijuana patches.

We have another fast and fun story played out on the stage of Blacklin County Texas. Rhodes and his cohorts earn another 5 reading glasses for their efforts.

--Benjamin Potter, October 3, 2016

Between the Living and the Dead by Bill Crider

©2015 Minotaur Books, New York

[Note to the reader: I received and read this book several months ago, and now that I have finished the next in the series, I thought I should go ahead and post a quick note about this good Dan Rhodes story.]

Seepy Benton, professor at Clearview College, trained member of Blacklin County’s “Citizen’s Patrol”, and part-time live music for a local restaurant has a new job interest—he’s a ghost hunter. And so is born another headache for county sheriff Dan Rhodes.

As is his fashion, award-winning author Bill Crider, weaves a story filled with ghosts, guns, and intrigue. Throw in some trademark comic relief and mystery lovers have another good evening’s read. Crider is known for his wit and attachment to clichéd phrases, and constantly files them away to surface in one of his mystery novels. As I read the description of Dan Rhodes subduing a run-away bull in the Walmart parking lot, I fairly laughed out loud to see that the good sheriff “took the bull by the horns.” And I wondered how long Crider had been waiting to fit that one into a story.

Again filled with our favorite characters, Sheriff Dan Rhodes fans will not want to miss this edition of crime and punishment in Blacklin County Texas. This one will be fun at Halloween time with its haunted house, reference to ghosts and hat tips to the Ghostbuster movie franchise. Dan Rhodes gets another 5 reading glasses, if for no other reason than he “ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”

—Benjamin Potter, October 3, 2016

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