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by author "Bill Crider" in All Categories
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Death by Accident
Dan Rhodes Mysteries, Book 9
Length: 4 hrs and 54 mins
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Although at first the dead man floating in the old swimming pool at the edge of town seems to have been an accident victim - a staggering drunk tumbling into the water - Rhodes and his small but colorful staff soon uncover murder. It's the second strange death in two weeks (the other was that of John West, killed when he blew up carrying a gasoline can across a field). But where was the Cherokee wagon John was carrying the gas to? And why is his widow so jaunty? West was a solid citizen; Pep Yeldell, the swimming pool decedent, was a man with many enemies.
PI Truman Smith has become a loner after failing to find his sister Jan during a recent search of Galveston Island. He jogs on the Seawall, plays with his cat, and reads lots of Faulkner books. He is pulled from his self-imposed retirement when his old high school football buddy Dino asks him to find a young girl named Sharon. As Tru begins his investigation, dead bodies begin to appear and Tru himself is attacked.
In his sixth adventure, Rhodes is confronted with what seems at first to be a suicide: the body of a man newly arrived in the county is found hanged in the dilapidated building he has taken over for his business. Simon Graham was a rare-book dealer. If it seems unlikely to find such an arcane entrepreneur in this extremely rural and sparsely populated part of Texas, it becomes less strange when it turns out that Graham was more con man than bibliophile.
In this latest Sheriff Dan Rhodes adventure, Bill Crider sends the small-town Texas lawman to investigate the apparent theft of a set of false teeth from one of the elderly residents of the Sunny Dale Nursing Home. The case, which begins as one merely embarrassing ("Ah ain't got no TEEF!") quickly turns serious when the owner of the missing dentures, one Lloyd Bobbit, is found suffocated with a plastic grocery bag.
Lizzie Randall, the preacher's daughter, is murdered. The men of the west Texas town are set on lynching Paco Morales, a Mexican teenager who happened to be in the vicinity at the time. No proof, but, after all, he is only a Mexican. Reason and/or conscience work on most of the would-be lynchers, so that, in the end justice is served. The list of suspects grows to include almost everyone in the story, thus providing an agreeable tangle of clues.
Someone in Blacklin County, Texas, is being disrespectful of the dead, and Sheriff Dan Rhodes must put a stop to it. First, there's the matter of the bodies at Ballinger's Funeral Home and the apparent misplacing of their valuables; the bereaved are beside themselves. There'd best be immediate action, or the bell could toll again - this time, for Sheriff Dan's reputation as the guardian of justice and decency in these parts.
In tiny Blacklin County, Texas, a curse is nothing more than a four-letter word hollered in a barroom or muttered in the heat. So Sheriff Dan Rhodes is more curious than concerned when he dutifully responds to a complaint of witchcraft. When Dr. Samuel Martin, the local dentist - and unpopular landlord - claims he's been hexed by a tenant, Rhodes does his best to smooth things out between the distressed D.D.S. and the would-be witch. But in two shakes of a black cat's tail, the good doctor disappears...and his wife turns up bludgeoned to death.
Sheriff Dan Rhodes knows it's going to be a bad day when Bert Ramsey arrives at the jail with a neatly wrapped arm and lays it on Dan's desk. He has another out in the truck, he tells the sheriff, and "a couple of legs, too, but they don't match up". Then Bert Ramsey is shot to death, and serious crime takes over. A tattoo on the body discloses that Ramsey was once a member of Los Muertos, a violent motorcycle gang from the city, and current members of the gang turn up in Blacklin County.
Jeanne Clinton was a pretty and well-liked woman, though in her younger days, she'd been known to be a bit wild. But she married an older man and settled down to a quiet, respectable life. Now, she is dead...brutally murdered in her home. Dan Rhodes, the thoughtful, hard-working sheriff of Blacklin County, Texas, has enough to worry about already: a rash of burglaries in town and an election coming up against a hot-shot opponent. Now, he's got to find a killer among the residents of his little town - a wily killer, bound and determined not to be caught.
While all of Blacklin County, Texas, celebrates the first winning season of high-school football in years, Sherliff Dan Rhodes finds himself dealing with drunken festivities, fights, and the murder of the team's offensive coach.
Six months ago, Ellie was a newlywed, working the dry land in 1880s Texas. Then the desperados came. They raped her and killed her husband, leaving her for dead. But she hunted them down and, along the way, found an inner strength and relentless determination that no man can match. Ellie thought the killing was over, that she'd put her guns away for good to run a ranch that she'd inherited from a legendary Texas Ranger. She was wrong.
On a bloody day in 1887, death came to Blanco, Texas. Before the sun went down, the livery stable was torched, an outlaw gang robbed the bank, two men were killed, and young newlywed Ellie Taine was raped. One of the dead was the man who planned the robbery - the son of dying, legendary Texas Ranger Jonathan Crossland - the other was Ellie's husband, an innocent bystander.
Professor Carl Burns knew the new dean wasn't going to work out when she bought the two goats. And that was the least of the problems. Hartley Gorman College was being attacked - with a vengeance - by the forces of political correctness, and the new dean was an unreconstructed hippie. Courses would have to be rewritten, manners watched... and everyone knew Burns should have been the new dean, anyway.
But what Burns hasn't counted on is the Edward Street Seminar, a conference that Burns has been assigned to run, which honors one Edward Street, former HGC professor and, lately, Hollywood celebrity. When Street comes back to Hartley Gorman and proceeds to offend everyone in town, and then turns up dead in his motel room, there is no shortage of suspects and Burns really begins to worry!
Ray Storey plays the role of Kit Carson in Col. A. J. Mahaffey's Authentic Medicine Show, wearing a fringed outfit and doing trick shooting to help the colonel push his Miracle Oil and Indian Vitality Pills. Storey's using his job with the show to travel around the country to look for the men who killed his parents, and of course there's a showdown in the end.
Hartley Gorman College, in Pecan City, Texas, is hardly a bastion of serious scholarship. The little Baptist school is more interested in shielding its students from the evil influence of The World, The Flesh, and The Devil than in turning out future Nobelists. But its staff, by and large, is worthy of a more demanding institution; they are victims of a glutted market in Ph.D.s and they do the best they can.
After he failed to find his missing sister, whose remains finally turned up in a bag in an overgrown field, Texas PI Truman Smith retired to become a housepainter on Galveston Island. But when an alligator is killed and its carcass left on display on a family friend's property, Tru is persuaded to search for the culprit. Soon the brooding gumshoe is stumbling over the bodies of dead humans, is shot at and run down by a souped-up four-by-four as he's embroiled in a plot complete with crooked police, a possible land-grabbing sheme and assorted "bad guys".
He's smart, he's attractive, and he has a special vision: whenever he sees the blood marks on a woman - marks only he can see - he knows what he must do. Kill her. Brutally. And not leave a trace of himself behind. Nine women have died so far. And pretty Casey Buckner may be next. A young divorcee who's recently moved into an apartment complex near the Astrodome, Casey's already met three men in the building: a married accountant, a single writer, and a psychologist.
In Murder Takes a Break, Galveston, Texas principal investigator Truman Smith loathes missing person cases because they either end up badly for his clients, or the person does not want to be found. So only as a personal favor to his friend Dino would Tru accept the case of missing college student, Randall Kirbo, who disappeared in the area while on Spring break nine months ago.
Bill Kane was going to hang for murdering Ryan's sister... After three long years, folks were shocked Ryan would show his face after abandoning his sister to her bloody fate. Others were amazed - and frightened - that he was back at all. No man could have survived that night in Shatter's Grove.