Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bill Crider, Half in Love With Artful Death

Bill Crider, Half in Love With Artful Death
St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2014
ISBN 978-250-03967-5
Also available in ebook formats

 I first read one of Bill Crider's books some time around 1995.  I had been in Bloomington (Indiana), for an Indiana University system-wide meeting, and was driving back to Chicago.  I stopped in Lafayette to eat dinner, and at a bookstore there, looking for something to read, picked up a paperback copy of Shotgun Saturday Night (1987), partly because I liked the cover illustration (a lawman leaning back on a chair on what appeared to be a walkway, with a rifle of shotgun propped up on his knee, if I recall) and partly because the description in the back made the book sound interesting.  Which it was.

Crider's 21st book about Sheriff Dan Rhodes of Blacklin County, Texas is, first of all, a perfect representative of the series--well-written, funny, with a well-plotted mystery (fairly solved) at its core.  There's an art workshop and exhibition underway in part of a building that also houses an antique store.  Local curmudgeon Burt Collins complains to Rhodes about the presence of the artists and subsequently gets into an altercation outside the exhibition.  Later that day, Rhodes has to deal with a robbery at a convenience store and to help the animal control officer corral two wayward donkeys.  And to begin the investigation of Collins' death,

As usual, Rhodes' path to a solution is not direct, mostly because other things come up (a naked woman at a roadside rest stop, for example).  And he as usual has to deal with the jail staff (Hack, the dispatcher--who, incidentally, seems to work 24/7, and Lawton, the jailer), whose method of conveying information is, shall we say, roundabout.  He worries about his diet (and goes off it once in a while), plays with his dogs (Speedo and Yancey), and continues his loving relationship with his wife Ivy. 

I really only have one question about the book.  At one point, Rhodes wakes up in the morning, having had a dream  All he can remember about it is that it involved...well, I won't go into that here--you should have the pleasure of discovering it yourself.  What I want to know, Bill, did you have that dream?  Because it sounded fascinating.  And I'm looking into how Freud would interpret it.

If you are already familiar with Dan Rhodes, Blacklin County, and the town of Clearview, you already know that you don't want to  miss this one.  If you have yet to visit, what are you waiting for?

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