cover image Winning Can Be Murder

Winning Can Be Murder

Bill Crider. St. Martin's Press, $21.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-14072-4

Texans take their high-school football seriously-seriously enough for murder in the eighth Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery (after Murder Most Fowl). For the first time since 1949, Clearview has a shot at the state championship, and the town is ecstatic. In the final seconds of a grueling, fight-filled game in which Clearview trails by one after scoring a touchdown, an argument erupts on the sidelines between head coach Jasper Knowles and offensive coach Brady Meredith. Knowles goes for two and wins the game. The next day, Meredith turns up dead. Rhodes, who knows the town's oddsmaker was also at the game, suspects a point-shaving scheme. The town sports reporter tells him that Meredith had been playing around with a fellow coach's wife, and there are rumors that someone might have been providing steroids for the team. The steroid angle looks good when Rhodes finds out that a drug-dealing biker is back in town. A second murder temporarily throws him off the scent, but, slowly and surely, the poised sheriff questions his way through the high-school sports hierarchy until he uncovers the killer. Although some good-old-boy shenanigans spice up the straightforward investigation, Crider keeps a leisurely pace. In fact, his writing is nearly as phlegmatic as the methodical, unrattled Rhodes. (Apr.)