Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pg. 69: Bill Crider's "Of All Sad Words"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Bill Crider's Of All Sad Words.

About the book, from the publisher:

Strangers are moving into Blacklin County, and none of them is any stranger than Seepy Benton, a math teacher whom the county judge suspects is a wild-eyed radical. Benton and Max Schwartz, who has opened a music store, are among the students in the Citizens’ Sheriff’s Academy, which seemed like a good idea when Sheriff Dan Rhodes presented it to the county commissioners. However, when a mobile home explodes and a dead body is found, the students become the chief suspects, and the commissioners aren’t happy. To make matters worse, there’s another murder, and one of Rhodes’s old antagonists returns with his partner in crime to cause even more trouble.

As always in Blacklin County, there are plenty of minor annoyances to go along with the major ones. For one thing, there’s a problem with the county’s Web page. The commissioners blame Rhodes, who knows nothing about the Internet but is supposed to be overseeing their online presence. Then there’s the illegal alcohol being sold in a local restaurant. It was produced in a still that Rhodes discovered after the explosion of the mobile home, and he’s sure it has some connection to the murders.

It’s another fun ride with genre veteran Bill Crider, and, once again, it’s up to Sheriff Dan Rhodes to save the day before Blacklin County becomes the crime capital of Texas.

Among the early praise for Of All Sad Words:
"Crider's winning 15th Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery (after 2007's Murder Among the OWLS) pits the wry Texan against a local drug ring. Skeptical when Clearview, Tex., newcomer C.P. Benton complains that his neighbors, the Crawford brothers, are cooking meth, Rhodes finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation when the Crawford trailer explodes, leaving one of the brothers dead. But instead of finding evidence of meth, Rhodes stumbles on a still with a fresh batch of old-fashioned hooch. The remaining Crawford brother plays dumb, blaming his sibling for the illegal operation, but Rhodes doesn't buy the act. The discovery of a second still complicates matters, and Rhodes must ignore his bickering deputies and a whiny county commissioner to get to the bottom of Clearview's crime wave. Crider expertly evokes this small Texas town and its eccentric cast of characters, and his dry humor will satisfy longtime fans of this popular series."
--Publishers Weekly

"Crider delivers his usual meticulously interwoven plot threads colored by Rhodes' dry humor. An excellent entry in a very fine series."

"Sheriff Dan Rhodes must cope with bootlegging, murder and a dazzling fictional alter ego. Something rare, something phenomenal, is about to happen in backwater Blacklin County, Texas: a book signing. Claudia and Jan, those writing ladies from out of town, have performed as promised, and the result is now between lurid hard covers. Blood Fever stars "a handsome, crime-busting sheriff" named Sage Barton, modeled, the authors say, on handsome, crime-busting Sheriff Dan Rhodes. He's embarrassed, of course, but a touch of celebrity can be heady as well as irritating. So he agrees to make an appearance at the event, autograph pen in hand. Meanwhile, there are more workaday matters requiring his attention. Someone has pumped two bullets into Terry Crawford just before blowing up his mobile home, leaving Larry Crawford minus a twin and a roof over his head. Why does the surviving twin seem less stricken than he should be? Following the whisky fumes and the money, Sheriff Dan finds a passel of crimes, busts the perpetrators and thumbs his nose at invidious comparisons. Shrewd, low-key Sheriff Dan (Murder Among the O.W.L.S., 2007, etc.) remains an engaging lawman who runs his tiny department with all the professionalism of the 87th Precinct."
Learn more about the author and his work at Crider's website and his blog.

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder and Murder Among the OWLS as well as an excellent write-up about Dan Rhodes on the big screen at "My Book, The Movie."

The Page 69 Test: Of All Sad Words.

--Marshal Zeringue