Death at a writer’s conference as a theme is something that every author does at some point in a series.  It also is a frequent theme for websites where entrants may even win a trip to the sponsoring writer’s conference. It is so overdone it is clichéd. Yet, it is done because as a thematic plot setting, the idea does work and brings in a new cast of characters, albeit temporary, into a series.


“A Romantic Way To Die” the eleventh book in the series featuring Sheriff Dan Rhodes uses such a device.  Local author Vernell Lindsey whose recent published romance novel “Wild Texas Wind” has taken off much to the chagrin of several local folks. After a book signing at the local Wal-mart she soon will be hosting a writer’s conference nearby in Obert at the former college campus. The buildings which have been the setting for a couple of novels earlier in the series are finally restored. They will be the site for the writer’s conference featuring local as well as non-local authors, a famous local guy turned male model used on numerous romance covers, and a big time New York agent.


Sheriff Dan Rhodes doesn’t much care and thinks the whole idea of a writer’s conference consisting of a bunch of authors talking about writing books is pretty much silly. That is, until the deaths start happening. Then the angst driven world of writing becomes very important as he tries to stop the killing and write his own justice filled ending.


This novel in the series plows no real new ground character wise as it enjoyably works its way to a satisfying end. Rhodes still wanders around frequently without backup and at least once gets knocked silly for his efforts. He still investigates primarily by asking questions and catching folks in lies. The problem is that writers lie all the time and he has to figure out which lies lead to the truth.


Much like other characters that don’t seem to learn from previous episodes (not just the well known Stephanie Plum) Rhodes still goes about thing his own way. That isn’t going to change. While it may make readers cringe from time to time, it can’t be denied that as a plot device it works in yet another good read in the series.


A Romantic Way To Die: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery

Bill Crider

Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Press)

November 2001

ISBN# 0-312-20907-X


231 Pages


This book came to me by way of the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2009

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