Clyde Ballinger is upset and that is not at all normal. Even when the limbs were found and had to be dealt with awhile back, Ballinger was pretty calm about the deal. Maybe because he reads a lot and what has happened in Blacklin County, Texas often reminds him of something he has read before in a crime novel. The quiet funeral director normally spends his time on Sunday mornings hitting the area garage sales looking for old paperback books. Ballinger loves crime novels and is a huge fan of the 87th precinct series. Usually, before Sheriff Rhodes has done much work on a real case, Ballinger has a fictional case to reference it to, a working theory and a suggestion or two on how the fictional detectives would solve the case. This time though, the crime has hit his business and he is very rattled.
Beyond rattled are Jack and Elva Storm. They are very upset and justifiably so. Jack and Elva Storm came to Ballinger's funeral home to see the body of Jack's sister, Jane Storm, before she was to be buried later in the day. Jewelry, specifically a gold ring with diamond solitaire is missing as are a pair of gold earrings with diamonds and a necklace of pearls. Jane was to be buried with these items and it seems that someone has removed them from the body. The items are gone and the Storms are threatening to sue. Sheriff Rhodes is sure Ballinger didn't take the stuff. Clyde is convinced that his partner Tom Skelly didn't steal the stuff either. Clyde is upset, the Storms are very upset and Sheriff Rhodes knows that the only thing that can be done is to delay the burial in hopes the thief gets caught and the items are recovered.
While he is dealing with that, old lady McGee out at the Clearview Lake called in to report some odd activity. She wanted to report some prowlers. She lives in a back area of the lake that most folks don't know about and find it hard to get to. Seems she has been seen a moving van around back there on the roads and with hardly anyone living back in there on a daily basis she thinks that somebody is stealing stuff.
Blacklin County, Texas has thieves of all types in this fourth installment of the sheriff Rhodes series. These story lines as well as others continue forward in a series that reminds one heavily of J.W. Jackson in Philip R. Craig's Martha's Vineyard stories. The settings are totally different, but the same type of folks, style of story telling with characters that feel like family are present along with plenty of amusing moments.
Character development is at a nil since these characters were pretty much developed in the first book. Instead, nuance is provided by the slowly ongoing and building romance between Ivy and Rhodes. That, along with his dealing regarding the eccentricies of his staff not only provide moments of comic relief, but, they also serve to illustrate that Rhodes, while he does make a lot of mistakes as a lawman, is a man with a good heart and a determined attitude.
The result is another good story.
Death On the Move
ISBN # 0-8041-0425-5
My thanks to the staff of Plano Public Library System as well as the staff of The University Of Texas At Austin Library System who graciously provided my review copy through the interlibrary loan program.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2008
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