Long familiar to readers via the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series novels Texas author Bill Crider has assembled a short collection of previously published stories featuring the good sheriff Dan Rhodes. The Blacklin County Files: 5 Sheriff Dan Rhodes Stories read just like the good novels in that the stories feature humor, mystery, and the extensive cast of folks that populate the town of Clearview and the surrounding East Texas County of Blacklin.
The small collection opens with the story titled “Buster.” Miss Onie Calder is quite elderly and someone has killed one of her many cats. She blames an angry neighbor and wants him arrested for murder. Things aren’t that simple but the truth will come out.
Sheriff Rhodes knows things happen in the county that might be technically against the law. But, Rhodes is not a hard-nosed law and order guy and is willing to look the other way on certain things as long as nothing happens. In “Gored” Sheriff Rhodes has to break his long standing policy of ignoring the Blacklin County Stagg BBQ. The quiet annual event deep in the woods as a remote cabin usually has no problems and nothing much happens but this year the addition of a dead man means Rhodes has to investigate. By the end of the story if you were not already hungry for barbecue and all the fixings Bill Crider helpfully includes a recipe for homemade Peach Ice Cream.
Ron Eller never did look like Jesus did in all the pictures Sheriff Rhodes saw as a kid in Sunday school classrooms. The fact that he did not look like Jesus at all didn’t stop somebody from killing him and wiring him to a cross. In “The Man on the Cross” Sheriff Rhodes has to figure who killed Ron Eller and why in a story that starts the Monday morning after Easter. The suspects are many in this complex tale of faith, profit, and deceit.
If you live in Blacklin County and you want real good food--meat and potatoes kind of food that will stick to your ribs-- you go to the “Round Up Restaurant.” The sign outside the door makes it clear that they don’t serve chicken¸ fish or anything vegetarian. In “Chocolate Moose” authored by Bill and Judy Crider, Sheriff Dan Rhodes has to go to the restaurant to investigate a death. Pretty much everyone in the county hated Mack McAnally and for various good reasons. Now he is dead in a very strange way in one of the dining rooms. It could be an accident or something more. A good story that finishes up with the killer caught and a recipe for the “World’s Best Chicken Fried Steak” and includes the recipe for gravy. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
Environmental issues are often a theme in the series---especially in recent books. An environmental problem and controversy are present in the “Who Killed Cock Rogers?” Shipping live cattle can often be a messy operation with unintended consequences and controversy. But, nobody expected a murder because of it.
So, get yourself some glass bottled Dr. Pepper (plastic bottles and cans just aren't the same), some peanut butter and cheese crackers, and kick back for a spell with the Blacklin County Files. Five good short stories featuring Sheriff Dan Rhodes, his wife Ivy, Deputy Rudy Grady, Jail Dispatcher Hack Jensen and numerous other good and no so good local residents. Plenty of humor¸ twists and turns in the cases, and detail regarding the residents makes The Blacklin County Files: 5 Sheriff Dan Rhodes Stories yet another fun comfortable cozy style read from award winning author Bill Crider. Solidly good, just like his novels, author Bill Crider provides yet more good reading.
The Blacklin County Files: 5 Sheriff Dan Rhodes Stories
Material supplied by the author in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2012