My friend, reviewer Kevin Tipple, is from Texas. Maybe that's why he appreciated Bill Crider's Sheriff Dan Rhodes mysteries long before I did. But, once I discovered them, I realized I was missing mysteries that are fun, light-hearted in tone, while cognizant of the serious nature of crime, particularly murder. Half in Love with Artful Death is all of that. And, if you've never read one of the mysteries, you can start with this one. Sheriff Rhodes and his motley crew are just waiting for you to meet them.
The sheriff of Blacklin County, Texas also provides services for the town of Clearview, so when Burt Collins wants to complain about artists in town, he shows up in the sheriff's office. Since Burt complains about everything, Sheriff Rhodes doesn't take him too seriously until he has to attend to a disturbance at the art exhibit. He finds Collins being restrained by two men, including Seepy Benton, a mathematics professor who considers himself part of the sheriff's department because of his attendance at the citizens' academy. Both men accuse Burt of vandalizing the art in the exhibit, but no one can prove it. Burt is released, and everything seems to be under control.
A sheriff's work is never done, particularly when there's a small staff. So, that night, Rhodes has to handle a robbery at the Pak-a-Sak convenience sore, donkeys on the loose on the highway, and Burt Collins' murder. In the course of the murder investigation, there is also a naked woman in some bushes, another robbery, a meth bust, the local news, and politicians. All in the day-to-day life of a Texas lawman.
At least in the day-to-day life of Sheriff Dan Rhodes. Crider's lawman is slow and steady, and he gets there, despite the "Who's on First" behavior of his dispatcher and jailer, and a few of his over-eager officers. Of course, he has what every lawman needs, an understanding wife, a couple dogs, and two do-nothing cats. And, a sense of humor.
If you enjoy funny conversations, the quirky people in a small town, and a shrewd, patient lawman, meet Sheriff Dan Rhodes. Half in Love with Artful Death is mystery with just the right tone of humor and respect for the seriousness of crime.
Bill Crider's website is www.BillCrider.com
Half in Love with Artful Death by Bill Crider. Minotaur Books. 2014. ISBN 9781250039675 (hardcover), 272p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.