Between the Living and the Dead by Bill Crider

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A Dan Rhodes Mystery and that mystery journey sprinkled lightly with humor is once again what makes this series so much fun.

Life is never easy for Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes. When he is called in the middle of the night to investigate gunshots at a haunted house, Rhodes finds the body of meth dealer Neil Foshee. Recently released from jail, Foshee has his fair share of potential murderers, including former girlfriend Vicki, her new boyfriend, the nephew of Clearview’s mayor, and Foshee’s criminal cousins Earl and Louie.

Complicating matters is Seepy Benton, the community college math professor who has a new summer job. He’s founded Clearview Paranormal Investigations and wants to solve the murder by communing with Foshee’s ghost. But when Benton connects with something else instead and a second body is found, Rhodes is left with more questions than ever. Who’s the dead person? How long has the body been hidden? Is Benton really able to communicate with ghosts? And, most important, what, if anything, does the body have to do with Neil Foshee’s death?

Between the Living and the Dead, Bill Crider’s latest installment in the critically acclaimed Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series, finds Rhodes dealing with ghost hunters, runaway bulls, and assorted low-level crimes, including people’s failure to use their turn signals. It’s all in a day’s work in Clearview, Texas.

Review by Mel Odom:

Bill Crider
Bill Crider

Every year for several years now, I’ve traveled down to Blacklin County, Texas, to help out with a murder investigation. Seems like somebody’s always ending up dead in little towns around the county and it takes a heap of investigating to set things back to rights.

Those little Texas towns are a lot like the ones where I grew up in Oklahoma. Same people, same diners, same economies, same problems. Now I like sophisticated murder cases too, and I like them spread out over the last couple hundred years all over the country, and all over the rest of the world as well.

But there’s something about these hometown murders that I relish. Maybe it’s the familiarity with the countryside, how everything is laid out on the page just the way I know things really are. Folks in small towns can be small-minded, yet still hooked into the technological marvels we have today, but they still worry about feral hogs and haunted houses.

I think one of the best parts of these Blacklin County murders is my good friend Sheriff Dan Rhodes. We’ve been riding the trail together for a few years now and I know how he thinks. Rhodes has changed a little over the years, got himself hitched and added to his critter collection, but he’s more or less the same guy I got to know in Shotgun Saturday Night (I started out a murder behind, but I caught up).

This year, Rhodes had another murder. A dead outlaw turned up in what is believed to be a haunted house, and Rhodes had to figure out who done for the man and what was going on. As usual, a simple murder in Blacklin County gets complicated because lots of other folks are protecting themselves, others, and their secrets.

In the middle of that investigation, there was a bull riding event, a brand spanking new paranormal investigation team (that I hope to hear more about), and a feral hog stampede that puts one man in the hospital and has the sheriff up a tree.

These are the way Rhodes’s cases go. Along the way, he’s aided and abetted by his usual crew (although he’d point out that none of them are as helpful as maybe they should be). Gradually, Rhodes works things out, and there are plenty of twists and turns you won’t see coming. In my opinion, Blacklin County has got to be one of the most interesting places in Texas. Or anywhere, for that matter.

If you haven’t been along for a murder in Blacklin County, come on down. And if you have, welcome back.

Review by Kevin Tipple:

Clearview, Texas, in Blacklin County, has a little bit of everything. Feral hogs, a Wal-Mart, and, of course, the, occasional murder or death by misadventure. It may even be the home of a haunted house if you listen to some folks. Not that Sheriff Dan Rhodes puts much stock in ghost stories, haunted houses, or anything paranormal.

He does put stock in reports of gunfire. Called out late one night to the supposedly haunted house over a report of flashing lights and gun shots, the Sheriff is relived to find no sign of Seepy Benton and his new enterprise known as Clearview Paranormal Investigations. With Officer Rudy Grady as his backup and a summer storm rolling in Sheriff Rhodes would like to believe somebody took the weather for a sign of something nefarious. Unfortunately, that is not what happened as they find the body of Neil Foshee.

The drug business exists everywhere and it certainly does in East Texas. Meth dealer Neil Foshee was well known in these parts for his criminal exploits as are his surviving cousins Earl and Louie. Nearly as bad as their departed cousin, Neil, Earl and Louie are not very bright and are not fine upstanding citizens. That makes them immediate suspects though Sheriff Rhodes, who has given up drinking Dr. Pepper, knows there are others.

A possible suspect is Neil’s former girlfriend, Vicki, who these days seems to have turned her life around and may have the romantic eye of her boss over at the local auto parts store. There are others in a case that has no easy answers and very few clues. Solving the crime isn’t easy and with Seepy Barton constantly going on about ghosts and claiming to be helping out things don’t get any easier. A runaway bull and a couple of other problems don’t help matters, but that is life in Blacklin County.

The latest in a long series is another solidly good read that includes Ivy, Hank, Lawton, Jennifer Loam and a host of other regulars. It takes Rhodes some time to assemble the mystery pieces in Between the Living and the Dead: A Dan Rhodes Mystery and that mystery journey sprinkled lightly with humor is once again what makes this series so much fun.