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    Review of RED, WHITE & BLUE MURDER by Bill Crider (see his website)


    Thomas Dunne, St. martin's Press, October 2003

    When young reporter Jennifer Loam approaches Sheriff Dan Rhodes with a scoop, he knows he'll have to investigate. Someone has been dishing dirt on a county commissioner--and on the sheriff himself. Rhodes knows that he didn't have county prisoners paint his house--and he's got the receipts to prove it, but does this mean that Loam's informant was wrong? Or is something else going on. Before he can track down the source, Rhodes is called to a fire--one with a body in the middle of it. And before you can ask whether it's hot enough, Rhodes has a murder on his hands.

    Author Bill Crider (see more reviews of novels by Crider) does a great job depicting rural Texas--a place where a rib-eating contest is prime news, where petty corruption is par for the course, where a romance author is the top celebrity, and where a sheriff is part deity and part goat for the community. That sense of community, without excessive nostalgia, comes through clearly and represents a part of Texas that still exists.. Rhodes is a great and well developed character. I couldn't help but find myself wincing as he repeatedly got himself on the wrong side of fists, crockery, weapons, and even a fireworks display.

    Crider writes with a deft and light touch. I got a good chuckle over both the situations he depicts and the dialogue his characters use to describe their feelings and intentions. The interplay between Rhodes and the department employees could have gotten old in less skilled hands, but Rhodes pulled it off.

    Fans of a slightly slower paced mystery that puts the focus on character rather than action will want to savor this slow-cooked short novel.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 2/04/04

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