Reviewing: "Booked for a Hanging: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery" by Bill Crider
As this sixth book in the series opens, the merry month of March has come to Blacklin County, Texas. Computers have come as well as Hack finally has one. Dispatcher for the small department, Hack has been pushing for a computer and all that one can do for years. Getting sued does have at least one advantage as the County Commissioners have increased the budget of the sheriff's department.
The computer is one of several items that the County Commissioners finally allowed to be purchased. While Hack is absolutely giddy over it, Rhodes isn't impressed. Rhodes doesn't think much of computers as he prefers to investigate the old fashioned way by asking a lot of questions. He gets his chance when a man stumbles into the office out of the dark and windy night. The man is Hal Brame, a book dealer out of Houston. He says he was out in Obert to meet with Simon Graham. He couldn't find Graham, but something weird was going on out there at the abandoned college.
Years ago, Simon bought the land and buildings with great plans for restoration. Unfortunately, he hasn't done much since and lives pretty much by himself out there though there are a couple of neighbors nearby. Brame convinces Sheriff Rhodes to drive out and take a look around. While Sheriff Rhodes doesn't find any sign of what Brame says he saw, he does find a very dead Simon Graham hanging from a rafter on the third floor of one of the buildings. What initially appears to be a suicide is soon determined to be a murder with quite a cast of suspects.
Showing the same down home folksy style as other novels in the series, this book released in 1992 does not disappoint. While Susan, Sheriff Rhodes daughter who is a school teacher in the Dallas suburb of Richardson, does not appear and isn't mentioned, almost all of the other usual recurring characters make another appearance. Rather surprisingly, the recent marriage of Ivy and Dan is hardly referred to at all and Ivy only makes a couple of appearances as a sounding board to discuss the various cases. One hopes this is not a trend in the series as Ivy brings an interesting angle to things by her presence.
Instead of what was expected given the recent nuptials, this novel is primarily all about Sheriff Rhodes and how he works cases. Those who prefer by the book police procedurals my become annoyed as Rhodes frequently still goes into situations without backup and neglects to report his locations via the radio. Inadvertently, by doing so, astute readers who have been paying attention through the series can easily predict when mayhem involving the Sheriff will happen.
Despite that fact, author Bill Crider still manages to put a couple of twists in this story that are guaranteed to surprise a lot of readers. Along the way he tells another engaging tale of the people and life in Blacklin County, Texas. So, put your feet up and sit a spell because this to is a good one.
Booked for a Hanging: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery Bill Crider http://www.billcrider.com/ Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Press 1992 ISBN# 0-312-08149-9 Hardback 202 Pages
Review copy provided by the good folks of the Plano Public Library System in Plano, Texas.
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