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    Review of MURDER AMONG THE OWLS by Bill Crider (see his website)


    Thomas Dunne, St. Martin's Minotaur, January 2007

    When a cat shows up at his doorstep, Sheriff Dan Rhodes knows it's trouble. His wife hasn't met an animal she doesn't want to take in--and she insists that his allergy is psychological. His wife also knows the cat--and knows it would never be allowed outside. Sam is an inside cat--which means something has happened to his owner. Sure enough, when Rhodes investigates, he discovers the elderly woman dead, a broken lightbulb and knocked over stool appearing to indicate she had a fatal accident. But if it was an accident, who let the cat out? Rhodes has to investigate--and his instincts tell him it's murder.

    You wouldn't think an ex-school teacher in small-town Texas would have many enemies. Rhodes soon learns, though, that Helen Harris had several. Her nere-do-well nephew needed money and Helen's mineral rights were suddenly worth a bundle. Helen had recently stirred up trouble with her book club, the Red Hat society, and her metal detecting club. Surely jealousy over a found hunk of metal is a bad reason for murder, but Sheriff Rhodes has found that not all murder has good reasons.

    Rhodes's search for clues is sometimes painful--as when he's attacked by a chainsaw or beaten with a woman's purse, but he doggedly continues--in between picking up the odd Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Trying to run the Sheriff's office and keeping his questionable crew working adds its own troubles.

    Author Bill Crider (see more reviews of mysteries by Crider) continues his charming Sheriff Dan Rhodes series with another funny and touching mystery. Crider's strong writing keeps the reader engaged, bringing us along with Rhodes as he uncovers the facts, one painful clue at a time. As with the other books in this series, Crider brings out the charm and the petty uglyness of rural and small-town Texas.

    Regular readers of the series will enjoy the news of the forthcoming novel based on 'a handsome Texas sheriff.' The writing team introduced several books ago is hard at work and all of Rhodes's coworkers get a kick out of kidding him about it. With the usual crew of Sheriff Dan Rhodes misfits, MURDER AMONG THE OWLS is a winner.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 4/10/07

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