Half in Love With Artful Death

by Bill Crider
Minotaur Books, August 2014, $24.99

Texas sheriff Dan Rhodes is having a busy week. In addition to vandalism at an art show hosted by the local community college, Rhodes must deal with some runaway donkeys, a robbery at a local convenience store, a naked woman in a roadside park, and a gang cooking meth.

While the crimes may be serious, watching how Rhodes deals with them is pretty entertaining. In this 21st book featuring the laid-back sheriff, there’s enough crime—and a host of characters—to keep a reader amused, even though, for a police procedural, there isn’t a lot of action. From a college math instructor who wants to be a cop, to a cranky retired track coach who has a fatal run-in with a Dale Earnhardt, Jr., statue, the quirky residents of Clearview, Texas, keep the sheriff on his toes and the reader flipping pages.

I especially liked Rhodes’ witty wife, Ivy, and the back-and-forth between them as he tries to explain the travails of his job, including getting dragged by a donkey, and needing to bring home a semi-naked woman for his wife to clothe.

While the book is lighthearted, it does touch on some more serious themes, such as domestic abuse, homophobia, and drug dealing. And while Rhodes may seem mellow for a lawman, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t serious about making people pay for their crimes.

This is a good book for those who like their mysteries relaxing and aren’t looking for action-driven drama. The sheriff always gets his man in the end—he just takes a little more time to get there.

Vanessa Orr
Teri Duerr
August 2014
Minotaur Books