Ed here: Bruce Grossman over at that extremely cool site Bookgasm reviewed one of Bill Crider's Sheriff Rhodes books today. He's obviously crazy about it. And Bruce knows what he's talking about. I'm one of the people who've been pushing the Sheriff Rhodes novels for years. They are gracefully wrought serio-comic novels about life in a small Texas town. The portraits of the people and the thrust of the stories come to have a dusty and indelible reality in every book. A generous but wary look at the lives most of us lead. For pure enjoyment--and for the pleasure of watching a real writer do some of his best work--I recommend this fine fine series.
Bruce Grossman at Bookgasm:
EVIL AT THE ROOT by Bill Crider — I can’t believe it’s taken this long for me to cover a Crider book. I’ve actually had this 1990 one on my shelf for a while, but just never got around to it. My loss is all I can say, because now I’m going to hunt down other novels in his Sheriff Dan Rhodes series.
This is the fifth one, and like the previous book, covers a running storyline outside the mystery itself. Again, I never felt lost with those details since Crider keeps it very light, never letting it bog down the heart of the matter. It opens goofily enough with Rhodes turning up at Sunny Dale Retirement Home to investigate the loss of some teeth. To me, it felt a bit like BARNEY MILLER at that moment, but ROOT is really like an 87th Precinct set in a small Texas town, especially since Crider not only name-checks that series, but also the work of Ross MacDonald, since at the end of the story, it feels as though Rhodes has a bit of Lew Archer in him also.
Now back to the plot of the missing dentures: Lloyd Bobbit, the victim, is positive that one of his fellow patients on the floor is responsible, naming Maurice Kennedy as the suspect. What adds to Rhodes’ problems is that Kennedy might have been responsible for a murder from 60 years ago. But Crider moves the story so well that when Bobbit winds up dead, with all fingers pointing at a now-missing Kennedy, the author really amps up the MacDonald influence, especially when an investigation that looks cut-and-dry isn’t.
AND BILL CRIDER DAY CONTINUES--
from the Mystery Scene website
by Oline Cogdill
March 4th, 2009
If it wasn’t for the mystery genre, the short story would continue to get, well, the short shrift.
Mystery readers at least have a couple of magazines devoted just to the art of the short story, other publications that include a story or two in each issue as well as the several anthologies published each year. There’s also several online publications that include short stories.
It’s still not enough. So many wonderful stories – most by new authors – languish in submission piles.
And as readers try to keep on top of the novels that come out, it’s easy to miss terrific short stories. The kind that make you think, the kind that make your hair stand on end, the kind that introduce you to an author you haven’t read before so you can go out and buy everything they have written.
Thank goodness Mystery Scene now has an advocate for short stories in Bill Crider whose column Short & Sweet kicks off this month.