Reviewing: "Cursed To Death: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery" by Bill Crider
Winter is closing on Blacklin County, Texas and Christmas isn't far away. Things have been odd at times lately, but, for Sheriff Dan Rhodes this is a first. One of the local dentists, Dr. Samuel Martin, has a complaint and he is sure that there has to be a law.
Dr. Martin simply can't have people barging in while he is with a patient and placing a curse on him. The curse placed on Dr. Martin was along the lines that he should get sick, lose all his money, and have all his teeth fall out. Kind of creative and amusing and as Rhodes digs deeper, he soon finds out there is a lot of heated back story involved. Betsy Higgins, who claims to be a witch, had justification for her actions at least somewhat. After all, Dr. Martin swiped the new stereo console TV from Betsy Higgins and her boyfriend because they hadn't paid the rent.
While Dr. Martin might be a very good dentist, he isn't very good at being a landlord. Things aren't always fixed like they should be and when folks get behind he either lets it slide or becomes verbally abusive and threatening towards them. With his owning several rental properties, word has gotten around the small town of Clearview as well as the county just what kind of landlord he is. Being cursed made him give up the stereo console television mighty quick, but he still is very annoyed and wants something done about it.
Rhodes negotiates a bit between the dentist/landlord and the tenants and thinks he has things solved. Shortly thereafter Dr. Martin vanishes, there is an uprising at the local nursing home by the elderly residents, and Rhodes still has to figure out what his unofficial engagement means. With all that going on and other stuff, it is supposed to be understandable why he occasionally investigates situations without backup and frequently loses his grip on situations as well as his pistol.
That flaw becomes a bit mildly annoying at times as Rhodes frequently walks alone into situations that he should, just based on what has happened in the series, let alone his long law enforcement career, should know better. Yes, it is a small police force and yes, others in his small department are frequently engaged in other duties. Still, the reader knows that when he walks into these situations, he is going to lose his weapon before he gets a chance to use it, take another good old fashioned beating, and probably lose consciousness again in the process.
Third in the series, this novel continues in the same comfortable folksy style of the earlier novels. There is no real additional character depth developed here. Sheriff Rhodes is still trying to figure out the meaning of his engagement to Ivy and at the same time, is trying to figure out what to buy her for Christmas. Those storylines are secondary but also easily feed into the main focus of this novel. The main focus being a tale about folks living their lives the best they can day to day, dealing with issues and problems we all deal with, while a murder lurks in their midsts. Another comfortable read that provides another healthy dose of enjoyment where the bodies will fall but it takes a little time.
Cursed To Death: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery Bill Crider http://www.billcrider.com/ Walker and Company 1988 ISBN# 0-8027-5698-0 Hardback 193 Pages
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