A couple weeks ago, I reviewed Terry Shames' The Last Death of Jack Harbin. I said her books reminded me a little of Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire books. My friend, reviewer Kevin Tipple of Kevin's Corner, said they reminded him of Bill Crider's Dan Rhodes mysteries. So, I picked up Crider's latest one, Compound Murder, to refresh my memory. I still don't see much of a resemblance between the two series, but I'm reminded why I enjoy Sheriff Dan Rhodes in Crider's books. I have a fondness for books featuring wise, capable sheriffs. In this case, Dan Rhodes is a wise man with a dry sense of humor who has to put up with a cast of characters who would try the patience of a saint.
Only a Blacklin County mystery would start with the robbery of a beauty shop, a robbery in which someone stole hair extensions. From there, Sheriff Dan Rhodes is called to the local college because there was a body in the parking lot. When a car speeds away from the college, Rhodes thinks he might have a clue. He actually has a culprit, someone with a wig and hair extensions in his trunk. And, of course, it would turn out to be the son of a local man who decided the apocalypse was coming and built a compound where the residents hoarded food and guns. But, Sheriff Dan Rhodes is calm enough to handle anything. After all, he's the role model for the hero of a series of books, the tough fictional Sheriff Sage Barton.
But, does Sage Barton have to deal with hogs in a house? "In Blacklin County, it was always something. Murder investigations sometimes had to come to a stop because of mundane troubles like hogs in the house." And, Sheriff Dan Rhodes has to handle everything, including a radio dispatcher and a jailer who remind Rhodes of Abbott and Costello, along with a female reporter with her own news web site who loves video of the region's "heroic sheriff".
Sheriff Dan Rhodes is a wonderful character who plugs away, sometimes despite the overzealous help of his staff. "He'd seen far too many of the things people were capable of at their worst, but he somehow remained trusting and hopeful about nearly everybody he encountered." He's the kind of man who rescues cats, babies his dogs, and gives people the benefit of the doubt. And, the relationship between Rhodes and his wife, Ivy, is fun to watch.
Compound Murder is another funny mystery featuring Sheriff Dan Rhodes and his cast of eccentric staff members. Read them in any order because they can stand alone. If you're looking for humorous mysteries with hogs in the house, stolen hair, and a cast that is always interesting, plus solid police work, you won't go wrong with Bill Crider's Texas stories.
(Oh, and Kevin? I think we're both wrong. Bill Crider's Sheriff Dan Rhodes is his own man. And, I'm thinking Rhodes might be closer to Patrick F. McManus' Sheriff Bo Tully than Terry Shames' character.)
Bill Crider's website is www.billcrider.com
Compound Murder by Bill Crider. Minotaur Books. 2013. ISBN 9780312641658 (hardcover), 262p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.