Drought is gripping Blacklin County, Texas right along with the usual brutal summer heat. It hasn’t rained in the last couple of months in this part of East Texas and not much more than nothing the last several years. Stock tanks are drying up, the lake waters are receding exposing more and more of the shoreline, and the grass and trees are shriveling up and dying in a landscape coated with dust and grit. The result is a seared dry landscape that will turn into an inferno with a spark. In a wise move, the annual fireworks celebration for the fourth of July has been canceled though the stands selling fireworks can’t be closed. Even if they should be.


If the summer heat wasn’t enough the prisoners in the jail are complaining and threatening to sue. Then there is Jennifer Loam, the newest reporter at the town newspaper, the Clearview Herald. Fresh out of college, she is looking to make a name for herself and intends to use Sheriff Rhodes as part of a major story.  Seems she has been told the good sheriff is corrupt and has bought what she has been told hook, line, and sinker.


She’s wrong and Rhodes tries to set her straight.


Something he will be doing again and again over the next several days as he investigates a string of murders. A building will burn, people will die, and Rhodes will take a beating more then once as he tries again to stop the latest crime wave in Clearview and the surrounding area.


Once again, there are virtually zero character developments as the players, major and minor, have been pretty much fleshed out earlier in the series. This novel makes frequent references to earlier books and events in the series so, as in nearly any series, it is best to read them in order.


And while number twelve in the series in another good one; it is unfortunate that the good sheriff doesn’t sometimes take proper precautions. While these are not police procedure novels and instead, nestle firmly in the cozy classification embrace, one does expect by this point some evolution in character sensibility.  One doesn’t turn away from a suspect when there is no backup anywhere around, for one example. Calling for back up is a good thing whether in a car or on foot and something Sheriff Rhodes fails to do on a routine basis. The good news is that once again Rhodes can be knocked unconscious, suffer blurry vision on gaining consciousness, and never have to be treated for a concussion or skull fracture and doesn’t have to ever be seen by a doctor.


Despite those criticisins, one doesn’t read this series for blow by blow procedural descriptions or incredible realism. It is cozy style fiction, after all, and an enjoyable read as they all are. One reads this series because the characters have become friends and one wants to know what has been going on lately.


That and where one can get Dr. Pepper in honest to god glass bottles.


Red, White & Blue Murder: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery

Bill Crider


Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Minotaur)



ISBN# 0-312-27185-9


215 Pages


This material was provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2009


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