Monday, August 8, 2011

The Wild Hog Murders – Bill Crider

[note: for a special treat keep reading after the review for a special interview with award-winning author Bill Crider]

© 2011 St. Martin’s Minotaur, New York

Bill Crider just can’t stop cranking out good stories. And all his readers are glad of it. July was the release date of the latest in the escapades of Sheriff Dan Rhodes with his deputies, Ruth Grady, Buddy, and Duke, and his jailhouse staff, the laughable Hack and Lawton. With Ivy and the dogs (plus a cat) at home, Sheriff Rhodes is living the dream life. I always know I’m in east Texas when I’m reading a Sheriff Dan Rhodes story—and this one took me back early on when even the high sheriff said the criminal was “off in the woods somewhere.”

Or so it would seem if convenience-store robbers wouldn’t wind up dead in the middle of the woods where hog hunters are stirring up a whole herd of feral hogs. This isn’t the first time these wild hogs have played into an investigation, and as prolific as they are, I suspect Rhodes will encounter them again someday. In the course of his investigation of an imported (from Arkansas) criminal named Baty (our dead body), the famous television bounty hunter fugitive recovery agent, Hoss Rapinski, hits the scene and almost immediately joins Baty at the funeral home that is the county morgue.

Included with all the colorful characters are some repeat offenders in Blacklin County. The Eccles cousins find themselves suspected again. Rapper and Nellie, the two-man motorcycle gang that repeatedly gives Rhodes problems put in an appearance (and we even learn more details about Rapper—read the book to find them out for yourself). And county commissioner Mikey Burns continues to hound Rhodes with worthless ideas—like employing “Robin Hood” to rid the county of the incessant feral hogs.

Climb out on the porch, pull up a rocker and a nice big glass of sweet tea (or better yet Dr Pepper from Dublin, Texas, where they still use sugar as sweetener), grab your copy of The Wild Hog Murders, and enjoy. Five reading glasses for a fine story.

—Benjamin Potter, August 8, 2011

And now for that interview:

I first met Bill Crider in English class--he was one of my early college professors at Howard Payne University. After we had both moved on, I found out he  had started publishing books. I started reading and haven't stopped since. So, let's let the man speak for himself --

An interview with insert author's name here Bill Crider

Benj-O: Let's start with a little background. How long have you been writing? And do you have a routine?

 BC:  I used to have a routine.  When I was teaching, I'd usually write from 7:00 P. M. or so until around 10:00.  Now that I've gotten old and lazy, I don't follow the routine so well.  I still prefer to write in the evenings, though.
Benj-O: Your talent seems to work equally well with both short fiction andnovels. How are these two formats different when writing (besides length,that is)?

BC:  Oddly enough, the difference is time.  It takes me a lot longer to write a page or two of a short story than it does for me to write a page or two of a novel.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it has to do with the compression of everything: time, character development, plot.  When you have as many pages as you need, you can be extravagant.  When you have 20 or 25 pages, you  have to condense everything and still tell a good story.  It's tough.
Benj-O: You've created a host of loveable characters to star in your stories (Sheriff Rhodes, of course; Sally Goode; Truman Smith; Carl Burns (mypersonal favorite), among others). Do you prefer one to another?

BC:  I like them all about the same, though I liked writing the Truman Smith series because it was in first person, which I enjoy.  Carl Burns was great fun because I got to write about things I knew about.  Sally Good was fun for the same reason and because she was the only female lead I ever got to do.  And of course Sheriff Rhodes was the first character I developed on my own, and he's the one who's still going.  I know that doesn't answer the question, but it's the best I can do.
Benj-O: So, let's get down to these wild hogs. Why do animals often play so heavily into your stories? Is there something we need to know?

BC:  The truth is, I never really thought about it.  I know that the Rhodes books have a lot of animals in them, and Truman Smith investigated the murder of an alligator and a prairie chicken.  Sally Good had her cat.  I guess the Burns books have fewer animals than the others, but I have no idea why.
Benj-O: Early in the Dan Rhodes series, I believe it was book one, Rhodes' daughter was bowing out of the scene to make room for Ivy. Do you thinkwe'll ever see her again?
BC:  That was in the first book, and she's never been mentioned again.  Or if she has I don't remember it.  I think about her all the time, however, and I wonder if there's a way to bring her back.  It could happen. 
Benj-O: When those Hollywood moguls finally take notice of Dan Rhodes, will you sell them the rights outright, or do you plan on being hands on in the process of bringing Dan and the gang to the silver screen?

BC:  If that ever happens, I probably won't still be around to see it.  So I'm selling them the lock, stock and barrel.
Benj-O: And finally, what's next for Bill Crider? Will we be seeing more of Blacklin County's finest, visiting some of our old friends from colleges past (they know who they are), or will we get to encounter entirely newcasts of characters?

BC:  The next sheriff book, tentatively titled THE MURDER OF A BEAUTY (SHOP) QUEEN had been turned in, so that'll be out next year.  I have one sheriff book left on the current contract.  After that, who knows?  I'm writing novels for the e-book RANCHO DIABLO series (DEAD MAN'S REVENGE is currently available for Kindle), and I'm supposed to write a DEAD MAN novel for Lee Goldberg's e-book series.  There'll be more of the RANCHO DIABLO books down the road.

As always Bill, thanks for playing!

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