Friday, April 17, 2009
Reviewing: "A Mammoth Murder: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery" by Bill Crider
"Technology, Rhodes thought. He knew there was a good reason he didn't trust it . The Internet was as bad as gossip." ( P. 224)
Sheriff Dan Rhodes of Blacklin County, Texas never has been fond of computers, forensic science, and all the rest of it. When murder happens in the county seat of Clearview or elsewhere in this East Texas County, Rhodes prefers to work the case or cases by the old fashioned way of asking questions. Sooner or later the killer lies once too many times about a point and all the jigsaw puzzle prices finally fit into place. It might not work out the way Rhodes had envisioned earlier while drinking Dr. Pepper and eating peanut butter and cheese crackers in his quiet courthouse office, but he always gets his killer.
This thirteenth novel in the series begins on what appears to be an unrelated story line. For years there have been rumors that Bigfoot roamed the woods of East Texas. An area in the southern part of the county known as the Big Woods is supposedly home to the Bigfoot though no one has ever actually seen one. The six mile area features tall trees and very thick brush and is most definitely the home of feral pigs. It isn't a favorite place of Rhodes as he chased a suspect in there a number of books ago and both he and the suspect ran into a bunch of the wild hogs. Fortunately, the suspect suffered more in that encounter.
Now it looks like he might be going back into those woods. Bud Turley has brought in what appears to be a fossilized tooth that measures seven inches or so long and about three inches wide. Friends Bud Turley and Larry Colley (whose claim to fame is that years ago a UFO abducted him) have been searching the woods for Big Foot. They never have caught it or gotten any proof and now Bud has a tooth which he is sure is proof. A tooth from something but probably not Bigfoot Rhodes believes but, he willing holds it for safe keeping in the evidence locker until Tom Vance, who teaches Biology over at the community college can come by the next day and study it. Tom Vance is also a paleontologist so he should be able to figure out if it is from Bigfoot especially since he also is interested in Bigfoot.
It does seem a little strange that Larry Colley didn't come in with Bud as they have done everything together since they were teenagers. When they weren't out looking for Bigfoot in the Big Woods, chasing aliens, or other odd things, both worked on old engines or just about anything. They also have a history of complaints from their customers about over charges and unorthodox collection methods. Then there were the bar fights over the years with witnesses often withdrawing statements resulting in charges being dropped. So, their reputation isn't very good. That also creates a huge number of suspects when Larry Colley is soon found dead in the Big Woods. It is obvious the feral hogs didn't kill him. Who, or what, did?
Featuring the same cast of recurring characters and folksy writing style that has been the signature of the series, Rhodes once again has to deal with oddball things and murder in the East Texas countryside. Much like what the late Philip R. Craig did so well with his Martha Vineyard series, Bill Crider does with the people and lifestyle of small town East Texas. With a steady way of doing business, Rhodes works the cases and the people to figure out who done the killing and why. There aren't any new character developments and at this point in the series, readers don't expect any. Instead, as expected, this book provides another glimpse in the ongoing lives of the central characters along with another twisting mystery. The result is another good novel in a quality series.
A Mammoth Murder: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery
Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin's Press)
This material was provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2009