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.
List compiled by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
This year authors from our home state showcased the wide breadth of story material to be found in the state of Texas.The novels below take a look at past and present, with settings ranging from small towns to our big cities, often showing how the Lone Star State effects the United States.
An involving story of a lawyer with a murder client tied to a current election in the early Nineties, Attica Locke’s latest novel delves into Houston’s black society and the relationship between Texas and U.S. politics. Locke uses a legal thriller set-up and private eye approach to show how the social and institutional interact. You can find copies of Pleasantville on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery gives us the low-down on this year’s Bouchercon, THE mystery convention.
I met Dashiell Hammett’s granddaughter. That will be my takeaway from this year’s Bouchercon. It made sense to meet her at this conference, held in the scarily clean city of Raleigh North Carolina. Organizers seemed to be interested in crime fiction’s past, present, and future.
Ali Karim should get credit for some of the best panels ever put together at a B-con. Reed Farrel Coleman was moderator for The Private Sector, a discussion of the PI genre that became a discussion about reality versus fiction when it came to the audience Q&A. Michael Koryta, a former private investigator, said he knows a writer is doing their work when they get surveillance right. He also suggested to research the job as if you were going into it as a profession. As detailed as it got, J.L. Abramo, author of the Jake Diamond series, put it all in perspective when he said, “Herman Melville wasn’t a whaler.”
We’re happy to have Ben Rehder joining us for our Lone Star Mystery authors panel September 28th. In Bum Steer, Rehder’s latest novel to feature John Marlin of Blanco County, Marlin solves the mystery behind two dead bodies: a man and a steer. We caught up with him to talk about the book and the real and fictional Blanco County.
MysteryPeople Scott: You often use news items or current events for your Blanco County books. Did a real life event inspire Bum Steer?
Ben Rehder: Not any single event, but cattle rustling in general had been in my head for a while. I think some people are surprised to learn that rustling still takes place, but it does, and there are special rangers who investigate those thefts, along with theft of farm and ranch equipment. Imagine trying to steal a thousand-pound animal that doesn’t want to cooperate. That was the germ of the idea that grew into Bum Steer.
Bill Crider is the epitome of the Texas journeyman writer. He has written in almost every genre and subgenre, his mysteries about Clearview sheriff Dan Rhodes being his best known. In his latest,Between The Living And The Dead, Dan Rhodes confronts murder, meth, and a possible ghost. Bill took a few questions from us about the Dan Rhodes novels and his career.
MysteryPeople Scott: What prompted you to use ghost hunters as a major part of the mystery?
Bill Crider: I’ve always wanted to write a haunted-house story, but I never came up with the right start for it. Then one day in the Walmart parking lot here in Alvin, Texas, I saw a ghost-hunters’ van, and I knew I had my hook. I had a character who’d be a perfect ghost hunter, so I gave him the job, threw in a murder, and had my haunted-house book.
We are happy to have Texas genre writer extraordinaire Bill Crider joining us for an evening of Lone Star Crime with Reavis Wortham and Ben Rehder. They’ll be here at the store on Monday, September 28th, at 7 PM. Bill will be reading from his latest Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery, Between The Living & The Dead. If you are not familiar with his Clearwater, Texas lawman here’s a taste from the Anthony Award winning short story he wrote with his wife. It even has a chicken fried steak recipe. Can you get more Texas?
“Chocolate Moose” by Bill and Judy Crider
“Sheriff Dan Rhodes didn’t go to the Round-Up Restaurant often, but not because the food wasn’t good. He didn’t go because the food was too good.
The portable sign out front told the story with black letters on a white background: ABSOLUTELY NO CHICKEN FISH OR VEGETARIAN DISHES CAN BE FOUND ON OUR MENU!
What could be found were huge chicken-fried steaks and mashed potatoes smothered in cream gravy; big, soft rolls served with real butter; cooked-to-order T-bones marbled with fat on a plate beside a gigantic baked potato slathered with real butter, sour cream, and bacon bits; hamburger steaks with grilled onions piled high, along with a mound of french-fries or, if you preferred, hand-cut and battered onion rings. And, for dessert, there was a choice of peach or cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream on top. If you didn’t like cobbler, there was chocolate pie, with the best, the richest, the sweetest filling that Rhodes had ever tasted under its inch-thick meringue.
In other words, the Round-Up served good, solid food that stuck to your ribs, put a smile on your face, and, according to many leading physicians, filled your coronary arteries with substances whose effect on your health it was better not to think about. Which was why Rhodes rarely ate there. His wife, Ivy, had him on a low-fat regimen that was taking inches off his waistline and, she claimed, adding years to his life. As Rhodes pulled the county car into the Round-Up’s black-topped parking lot, he wished, in spite of the risk to his longevity, that he were going there to have a big slice of chocolate pie, or, failing that, maybe one of those baked potatoes. But he wasn’t. He was going to see about a man who’d been killed by a moose.