“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.” (Page1)

It gets worse. Bert has another neatly wrapped and packaged arm and two more legs out is his truck. Bert was clearing brush out on the old Caster place and found these parts inside a corrugated cardboard box. He also found a couple more boxes out there that probably contain something. Bert opened one box and after seeing what was inside decided it wasn’t a good idea to open anymore boxes or move them. Which means Sheriff Rhodes is going to have go out there and see for himself the scene as well as open the boxes. Something he doesn’t want to do either.

For Blacklin County, Texas this is something that might happen in the city but, not out here. Nobody is missing and as far as Sheriff Rhodes knows, the county doesn’t have several people missing or enough missing folks to supply limbs to fill the first box. Those parts don’t appear to be related to each other in any way. Rhodes figures that somebody came off the nearby interstate and dumped the boxes and then went back on their way through the East Texas countryside.

While how the parts came to be dumped in the field is soon easily solved, disposal of those parts becomes an issue. An issue that becomes an annoyance quickly and something that takes his attention away from a murder that soon happens and isn’t easily solved.

Second in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series this novel picks up just a little after the events depicted in “Too Late to Die.” Readers are again treated to life in Blacklin County in East Texas and the usually unflappable Sheriff Rhodes and the cast of characters in his life and county. Crime and even murder he can handle as well as the occasional violent altercation with suspects. Romance is another thing.

The growing romance between him and Ivy Daniel is the primary way for further deepening character development in this novel. The character of Sheriff Rhodes as well as numerous other characters was pretty much established in the first book. Rhodes is on his own these days as his daughter, Kathy took the teaching job in Richardson. Which leaves him alone to navigate the tossing waters of romance and he is a having a hard go of it. Things have changed quite a lot since he was courting Claire and he has to learn how to do so again. As a widower he hasn’t been trying to date anyone for a long time and the ritual seems as difficult as a foreign language. Having to search for a murder doesn’t really assist in the dating process either.

Released in 1987, this enjoyable novel picks up seamlessly from “Too Late to Die” as it evolves characters and entertains readers with quite a few twists along the way. At 185 pages in hardback form, it is also a fast read that is just plain good and that features good old detective work with no fancy high tech gadgets or gratuitous nonsense.

Shotgun Saturday Night: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery

Bill Crider

Walker and Company


ISBN# 0-8027-5684-0


185 pages

My sincere thanks to the staff of the “Harris County Public Library” located in Houston, Texas who graciously provided my review copy through the interlibrary loan system.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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