Having recently read "Of All Sad Words" which is the latest in the Dan Rhodes series from Bill Crider and a book that I enjoyed very much, it seemed like I should read others. I'd never read Bill Crider before that book and while the TBR pile seems to achieving sentient life status, it still has not managed to sprout legs and move. So, I went back to where this series began with "Too Late To Die" and requested it from my local library.
It is election season as this is the first novel in the series opens. Sheriff Dan Rhodes knows that some folks aren't going to vote him in Blacklin County, Texas. The Sheriff gets blamed for everything and praised rarely. When somebody's store gets robbed and the bad guys get away, it is his fault. Some folks aren't going to vote for him for another reason. They are dead.
Jeanne Clinton, the much younger wife of Elmer Clinton has been found dead in her home. Her face is a little battered, her neck has been broken, and the house is in disarray. Word has spread fast and the town experts figure her husband Elmer did it. He's a suspect of course, but it soon becomes clear that there are other suspects.
The population of Thurston is 408 and a large number of the good folks are suspects. Several folks that aren't murder suspects are convinced that Sheriff Rhodes needs to be dating again because his wife Claire died awhile back and he needs to move on. Then there is the problem of his daughter, Kathy who is dating one of his deputies. A deputy who suddenly stands accused of assault and police brutality. Just what Sheriff Rhodes really needs in an election year.
Released in 1986 this novel moves at a steady pace that allows readers to learn about the characters before they learn of the first murder. Character development come first with crime second as author Bill Crider sets the solid foundation for this running series. Having read his most recent novel in the series, it isn't surprising that the same style and tone were set in this novel where the people come first and then the crime or case.
Unlike many books published over twenty years ago, the read does not come across as dated at all. Instead, it comes across as a mighty good story told by a friend sitting next to you on the living room couch. Can't ask for any better than that.
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