Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Shotgun Saturday Night: Bill Crider


Shotgun Saturday Night has a great opening line:
Sheriff Dan Rhodes knew it was going to be a bad day when Bert Ramsey brought in the arm and laid it on the desk.  ...
“Got another one out in the truck,” Bert said around the wad of snuff he had tucked between his cheek and gum on the left side of his mouth. “Got a couple of legs, too, but they don’t match up with each other.”
Bert Ramsey was a short, wiry man with a sun- and wind-burned face. Rhodes had once seen a briefcase made of industrial belting leather. Ramsey’s face looked as if it were made of the same material.
It soon appears that the severed limbs are not related to a crime, or at least not to a murder. But then Bert Ramsey is shot dead with a shotgun on Saturday night while Sheriff Dan Rhodes is playing Buddy Holly records for his lady friend, Ivy Daniel. That is when the real investigation begins.


Published in 1987, this is the second in a series of twenty-two novels set in fictional Blacklin County, Texas. The twenty-second book was just released on August 11th. I reviewed the first book in the series, Too Late to Diehere.

Shotgun Saturday Night moves at a faster pace than the first book, with action throughout. But the book remains a picture of small communities full of interesting, quirky characters. There are the men who work with Rhodes: Hack Jensen, the dispatcher, and Lawton, the jailer. Both are older and set in their ways. Ruth Grady has just joined the group as the new deputy. She has to convince Hack and Lawton that a woman can do the job.

The main character is Rhodes, and we are let in on a lot of his musings about his life, his job, and his possible future with Ivy Daniel. The romance with Ivy might be irritating (at least to me) except for the fact that she gets involved in the investigation in a realistic way. The story has the perfect amount of humor, low-key, not the laugh out loud type.

There are so many touches I love in this book. A dog is orphaned and Rhodes takes him in. He doesn't have much experience with taking care of a dog, but he learns. He loves old movies and watches the Million Dollar Movie at lunch time. And since I love barbecue, and I understand the reverence for real barbecue in the southern US states, I loved the scene set in Lester's BBQ joint. I have never been to a place quite that rustic, but I would go if I have a chance.
Lester’s was just on the outskirts of Clearview. It was not fancy enough to be called a restaurant, or even a cafĂ©. Lester’s was a barbecue joint, and it looked the part.
When Rhodes and Ivy drove up there were three cars and a pickup parked in front of what looked like an old house in poor repair. It had once been painted green, but that had been years ago. It had a slight list to the left, as if someone very large had given it a shove. In front was a piece of plywood on which someone had printed in black paint, with a very wide brush and an unsteady hand: LESTERS BBQ. As Hack had once told Rhodes, “Lester don’t believe in puttin’ up a front.”
The food is simple but good, and Rhodes always drinks a Dr. Pepper with it. My son and I are fans of Dr. Pepper too. I love barbecue but Alabama barbecue is the best.

I have talked so much about the little things that you may think there is no murder investigation going on here. There is and it is complex with twists and turns. Rhodes thinks he knows his county but he discovers crimes and criminals he had not been aware of. He gets involved with motorcycle gangs and FBI investigations. One Goodreads reviewer described this book as an "almost-cosy police procedural." I agree with that, but the ruthless motorcycle gang members do move it a good ways away from cozy.

I already have the latest books in the series, except for the most recent one, but I really think I want to read this series as much in order as I can. The series was published through the years when computers were coming into more and more common usage, so it will be interesting to see how Crider handles this.

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Publisher:   Walker and Company, 1987
Length:      185 pages
Format:      Hardcover
Series:       Dan Rhodes #2
Setting:      Texas
Genre:        Police Procedural
Source:      I purchased my copy.

20 comments:

  1. There is no barbecue west of Raleigh or north of Rocky Mount. Sorry.

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    1. We all love our favorite barbecue, don't we? I remember a place called Paul's Drive-In in Hueytown, Alabama with great barbecue sandwiches. Good memories.

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  2. Tracy, I have heard and read so much about Bill Crider's Sheriff Dan Rhodes. It's the kind of series I'd enjoy reading back to back.

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    1. I agree, Prashant, back to back is the way to go. I have a crush on Dan Rhodes.

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  3. Oh, very glad you liked this one, Tracy. And Dan Rhodes is a great character. In fact, one of these times soon, I need to spotlight one of his books...

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    1. Definitely, Margot, a spotlight would be great.

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  4. Thanks for these nice comments. Shay is Wrong about barbecue, though.

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    1. You are very welcome, Bill, and they all are sincere.

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  5. If doesn't involve an entire pig, a 55-gallon drum, three days, and a volunteer fire department in coastal North Carolina...it ain't 'cue.

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    1. I would love to see coastal North Carolina, Shay. A part of the southern US I have not been to.

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  6. I am well and truly sold Tracy - thanks, will see if i can find an affordable copy.

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    1. I am glad, Sergio. I hope you find one, and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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    2. Amazon tells me its on its way to me ...

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    3. Great, Sergio. I do hope you enjoy the book and Crider is definitely worth trying.

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  7. Replies
    1. I will keep trying to tempt you, Col.

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  8. This sounds like just the book to get me back on the CF track. I'm going to Kindle....as we speak.

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    1. I certainly enjoyed it, Nancy, and hope that you do as well.

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  9. I found the copy I read at the library, where there were many of the Rhodes books.

    As for barbecue, I went to a place in southern California once and the ribs came with bean sprouts on the side. If I had to pick "Q", it would probably be Tennessee, my brother lives there and I've had some darn good eats there.

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    1. I am sure the library is a good source, Richard. Somehow after my child got older we just haven't used the library much. But I have many librarian friends and I know how important they are as a resource.

      I would love to try Tennessee barbecue. I haven't had a lot of luck with barbecue in southern California either, but just today I had a great barbecue pork sandwich at the hospital cafe. You never know where you will find good barbecue.

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