Monday, February 18, 2019
That Old Scoundrel Death by Bill Crider
When Sheriff Rhodes finds himself facing down a man with a pistol, he knows he made a mistake. It's the first of several in the course of the story, mistakes that make him wonder if he should be thinking of retirement. This time, the sheriff is able to grab the gun, and successfully arrest the man who had turned on another motorist, complaining he cut him off. While the other man goes home to change clothes, his story and his name prove to be false. But, everyone has a role in Rhodes' stories. In this case, that anonymous man soon becomes a murder victim.
It seems there are problems in Thurston, Texas, one of the small communities in Blacklin County. The issues surround an old schoolhouse. Some want it torn down. Others want it kept to commemorate history. It's a fight between some of the wealthy families in the town. And, that schoolhouse becomes the site of a murder, even before Sheriff Rhodes has to run in and save a neighbor lady from a fire as the school building burns to the ground.
It's getting to be a little much for Sheriff Rhodes. He warns everyone he might not run for re-election. He has a murder and a fire on his hands, but he still has to deal with Seepy Benton, who is now a private detective, two buddies who are up to no good, the social media that wants to make Rhodes a hero. Then there are all the day-to-day crimes that occur while he's trying to handle a major investigation. Retirement looks better all the time. And, there are moments when Rhodes looks at the community, wondering if they really know what the sheriff's department does. Right until the end, Sheriff Dan Rhodes threatens to not run for re-election.
Sheriff Rhodes has been a model for so many lawmen in other books. "His methods were old-school ones. He simply kept on talking to people until things cleared up for him or until he caught somebody in a revealing lie." Samuel Craddock, Terry Shames' Texas sheriff, is cut in the same mold. Even Mark de Castrique's undertaker who investigates, Buryin' Barry, spends his time talking to people. We're lucky to have small town sleuths in the spirit of Sheriff Dan Rhodes. But, the sheriff's wit and humanity will be missed, just as we all miss Bill Crider.
That Old Scoundrel Death by Bill Crider. Minotaur Books, 2019. ISBN 9781250165626 (hardcover), 288p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The author's daughter gave me a copy of the book.