Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Review: That Old Scoundrel Death: A Dan Rhodes Mystery by Bill Crider

This is a case where reading the book and writing the review is more than a bit difficult. I considered Bill Crider a good friend though we never met. Years ago when my world rocked with news of Sandi’s cancer diagnosis, Bill was one of several people who reached out to me to provide support. His wife, Judy, was fighting the same fight against one of the two types of non hodgkins lymphoma Sandi had. 
As the months passed we traded tips, advice, and more as our spouses fought with everything they had. Sandi and I cried at the news Judy passed. Then, more than a few months later, Sandi left. Bill kept telling me afterwards one could survive the worst thing possible. He had and served as an inspiration. Especially in those darkest early days when everything was blur and tears. It wasn’t long after Sandi passed that Bill passed after his own fight against prostate cancer. 
My hope is that somewhere Bill and Judy are hanging out with Sandi talking about books and how odd Sandi’s husband is. I also hope that Angela Crider can find a way to pick up this series and keep it going. I have quietly suggested a couple of ideas to her so who knows? I remain very good at suggesting ideas for others to pursue in a book…

It isn’t a good thing to come across a man with a gun. Especially when the man with the gun is tweaking on meth. It is a hot August day in Blacklin County, Texas and while Rhodes is sweating because of the heat and having a gun pointed at him; the meth head is sweating and shaking because of the meth.

Some sort of road rage incident just happened before Rhodes came by in his patrol car. When all was said and done, the meth head decided to put a real scare in the other driver to teach him one heck of a lesson. Then Sheriff Rhodes went and showed up making things very complicated in the mind of the meth head known to one and all as Kenny Lambert. He has a history with local law enforcement going back a few years so Rhodes knows the man is not terribly bright on a good day. This is not a good day.

Rhodes also knows he screwed up by not figuring out what was going on fast enough and getting backup headed to them. He is on his own and things do not look good. That is until Kenny Lambert gets distracted by the victim. His action allows Sheriff Rhodes to get the gun and arrest Kenny.

All things considered, the victim is relatively okay and introduces himself as Carl Stinson.  He plans on going home and cleaning himself up. He promises to come by the jail later and do the paperwork to bring charges against Kenny. Charges that Kenny will get along with the ones Sheriff Rhodes plans to bring because of having a gun pointed at him.

While it is not exactly normal procedure to let a victim go home and change before coming by the jail later to do the paperwork, Carl Stinson did promise to come by and should be in town for a while as he said he had plans to go look at the old school building nearby in Thurston. Some of the locals are pushing hard to finally bring the old building down before it comes down and maybe kills somebody in the process. The place is not very safe. Stinson says he is in town to see it as his grandmother went to school there. With another promise to appear at the jail, Sheriff Rhodes agrees and Cal Stinson drives off.

Sheriff Rhodes will come to regret that decision.

He is never seen alive again. Instead, he is soon found very much dead in the old school building. His name was not Cal Stinson either. Who he was and why he was shot in the back of the head are just two of the questions that Sheriff Dan Rhodes must answer in that That Old Scoundrel Death: A Dan Rhodes Mystery.

As one would expect, this is billed as the final installment of the great series. The book features all the usual characters that readers have enjoyed for so long. At work, as has been the case for many years now, is a primary mystery, a couple of secondary ones, a dash of humor, plenty of Texas wisdom and scenery, and the occasional Dr Pepper with the real sugar reference. Stir all that together under the able touch of author Bill Crider and you have another very good read. If That Old Scoundrel Death: A Dan Rhodes Mystery is to be the final installment of the series, it ends well and in a very good place. One can’t ask for more than that. 

That Old Scoundrel Death: A Dan Rhodes Mystery
Bill Crider
Minotaur Books (Thomas Dunne Books)
February 19, 2019
ISBN #978-1250165633
288 Pages

My very special thanks to Angela Crider Neary who provided an ARC of her Dad’s final book.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2019


Jerry House said...

Looking forward to this one with such mixed feelings. Happy because the Dan Rhodes is always worth while; sad because there will be no more from Bill.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Agreed. I had a hard time with it because of that.

I have suggested to Angela that she pick up the mantle from the perspective of Ruth and do the same sort of shift in focus that Havill did with the Posadas County series. Have Rhodes around on the endges, but make the deal mainly involve Ruth and the otehr folks we know and love. I think it would work though I certainly understand why she would prefer not to touch her father's legacy for so many reasons.

Cox Crider said...

Thank you for writing this tribute and review. Bill had a whole 'nother family of bibliophiles and mystery aficianados who regret Bill's passing and the end of the Dan Rhodes series. Bill was OK with the world when he left it, and we must be too.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

I am very glad he had that peace. I am in that other family and I know the pain I feel is nowhere near the level you and the rest of his family feel.

texaswier said...

I would like to see the series be reprised, no matter the author, so long as they remain true to Bill's voice and style.

Angela Crider Neary said...

Thanks to Kevin for the heartfelt review and to everyone for their kind comments. It's touching to know how loved Bill Crider was.