- Review by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
The opening chapter of Survivors Will be Shot Again, the latest book featuring Clearview, Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes, encapsulates the book and series in its tone and approach. The opening sentences are “Sheriff Dan Rhodes was standing at the back of the Pak-a-Sak looking at the Dr. Peppers in the big cooler when a man with a gun came inside. Rhodes hadn’t had a Dr. Pepper in years, and he’d missed the taste a lot.” We spend two paragraphs about Rhodes being tempted to lift his boycott on the soft drink for not selling the ones with real sugar on line, before the lawman assesses the situation and disarms the robber with a loaf of bread. The clerk realizes he went to school with the robber. The three have some fun banter before Dan slaps the cuffs on the culprit. Like the rest of the book, this first scene is entertaining , doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is more interested in the characters than crime.
After the Pak-a-Sak arrest, the main story kicks in. Rhodes goes out to investigate the latest in a rash of burglaries in town. This one is at bank loan officer Billy Bacon’s ranch, where there are two signs on the fence gate, TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT and SURVIVORS WILL BE SHOT AGAIN. As Rhodes pokes around the property, he finds the body of Melvin Hunt, a fellow burglary victim. Soon Rhodes is entangled in a case involving a marijuana patch guarded by a gator, a snapping turtle, and a few more murders.
Crider is a master craftsman. His plotting is strong, allowing for an easy-going pace that still has forward momentum. He creates a strong narrative line for him to carry what he is really interested in – hanging out with Dan and the rest of the Clearview crowd and delivering laugh-out-loud moments. Much like the tales of Dan’s Wyoming counterpart, Sheriff Walt Longmire, it is about the relationship between a lawman and his community.
Like many of the previous Dan Rhodes books, Survivors Will Be Shot Again serves as literary comfort food. It delivers everything you want in an enriching, flavorful, and willing way. I look forward to the next helping.
You can find copies of Survivors Will Be Shot Again on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.