Sunday, March 15, 2015

Too Late to Die: Bill Crider

Excerpt from the back cover of my paperback edition:
Jeanne Clinton was a pretty and well-liked woman—though in her younger days she'd been known to be a bit wild. But she married an older man and settled down to a quiet, respectable life. Now she is dead, brutally murdered in her home. 
Dan Rhodes, the thoughtful, hard-working sheriff of Blacklin County, Texas, has enough to worry about already: a rash of burglaries in town and an election coming up against a hot-shot opponent. Now he's got to find a killer among the residents of his little town—a wily killer, bound and determined not to be caught.
When Newgate Callender reviewed this book in The New York Times, he said:
Sheriff Dan Rhodes is an honest man, a quiet man and a stubborn man. It is pleasant to make his acquaintance.

Too Late to Die is the first book in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, which now totals 21 books.  Dan Rhodes is up for reelection to the job of Sheriff of Blacklin County, Texas. His jurisdiction covers small towns and rural areas, where everyone knows everyone.

The pacing of the story is slow but steady, until towards the end when the action speeds up. Rhodes has other, minor crimes and issues to deal with but in the end everything leads up the the logical resolution of the crime.  I like a good mystery but my favorite mystery authors provide more that that. Crider combines good characterization of the Sheriff, and his family, friends and enemies, with an interesting picture of rural Texas. The story is told with dry humor.

At his website, Crider describes the area that Dan Rhodes works in:
The Sheriff Dan Rhodes series features the adventures of a sheriff in a small Texas county where there are no serial killers, where a naked man hiding in a dumpster is big news, and where the sheriff still has time to investigate the theft of a set of false teeth.
And here is an excerpt from the book, describing both of the men running for Sheriff.
Ralph Claymore was Rhodes's opponent in the May election, less than a month away. He was ten years younger and, Rhodes was convinced, much better-looking than the present sheriff. He had wavy black hair with no gray in it, and he could wear tight-fitting western shirts without revealing the slightest bulge in the area of his belly. He wore western hats like he was born in them, and boots, and big silver belt buckles. Rhodes didn’t like boots because they hurt his toes. He didn’t have any silver buckles, and he knew that in a western hat he looked like a cat turd under a collard leaf. And now he had a murder on his hands. He might not look like a sheriff, but he was damn sure going to have to act like one.
Dan Rhodes is a man I want to read more about. I have the next book in the series, Shotgun Saturday Night, on order, and I have purchased some of the recent books in the series that are still available in hardback.  He has written several other series and standalone novels. There is a four book series featuring Carl Burns, a college professor of English literature; a three book series with Sally Good, Head of the English and Fine Arts Division of Hughes Community College in Texas; a five book series starring private investigator Truman Smith set in Galveston, Texas; and more.

Col at Col's Criminal Library recently reviewed Outrage at Blanco, the first of two books featuring Ellie Taine. That one is a Western / crime novel set in 1887.

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Publisher:   Ivy Books, 1989 (orig. pub. 1986)
Length:      182 pages
Format:      Paperback
Series:       Sheriff Dan Rhodes #1
Setting:      Texas
Genre:        Police Procedural
Source:      I purchased my copy.

22 comments:

  1. Thanks for reviewing this one, Tracy. I was curious myself after reading Col's review. I do enjoy my share of western mysteries. Dry humor included ;-) Have you read Craig Johnson yet? I find him to be an amazing writer whose works are full of humor, too. Speaking of which, I need to get back on track....Crider's first book sound great. Thanks.

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    1. Keishon, I have read the first three of the Craig Johnson series and enjoyed them a lot. I need to get back to them also.

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  2. He writes about a man much like he is. Totally lovable and admirable. I need to go back and read one.

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    1. That is good to hear, Patti. I too get that sense even though I don't know Bill Crider personally.

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  3. Tracy, thanks for linking. I do like the sound of this and am now severely tempted! Blast.....great cover too.

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    1. Col, I was glad that your review gave me an opportunity to point to some of Bill Crider's writing that is grittier.

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  4. Well done Tracy! You and Col now have me adding westerns to my future reading!

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    1. I need to branch out to reading Westerns also, Peggy. So many books and genres to read.

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  5. So glad you enjoyed this one, Tracy! Bill Crider is a great person, and this is a fine series, in my opinion. Thanks for reminding me of it.

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    1. I am eager to try some of the other series, Margot. I have one of the Sally Good books and the Truman Smith series sounds especially interesting.

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  6. Adding a comment from Anonymous with formatting problems:

    Having read this book I continued and at this point there are the first 13 in my Kindle.
    It was like discovering treasure when I found Dan Rhodes and his gang. Thanks Bill Crider. your one of the best I also have the truman series:)

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    1. I want to try all of the other series, but the Truman series is top on the list.

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  7. Good books, good series, and one of the good guys.

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    1. You are so right, Kevin. I enjoyed this first book very much, and just got Shotgun Saturday Night in the mail.

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  8. Well, this all sounds bloody marvellous - I shall follow suit and dig in too ASAP - thanks for the great review TracyK.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Sergio. I do hope you enjoy reading one of Crider's books.

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  9. It all sounds so good - I just don't need another series to start!

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    1. I know what you mean, Moira. And I thought I did not want to read about Texas, but I have tried two authors from there recently.

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  10. Tracy, great choice and review! I love westerns and it's a shame I haven't read anything by Bill Crider, especially since I know much about him through his own and other blogs.

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    1. I can say without reservation that I am sure you would like Bill Crider's books, Prashant.

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  11. These sound terrific, Tracy. I've never read any but I'm adding Crider's name to my TBR list. If the examples you posted are anything to go by (and I think they are) then this is a series written with the sort of laid back humor I like.

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    1. Yvette, I do think you would enjoy this series. I haven't tried the later books yet, and haven't decided whether to skip around or read from the beginning.

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