cover image Ghost of a Chance

Ghost of a Chance

Bill Crider. Minotaur Books, $23.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-312-20889-9

Blacklin County, Tex., which includes the decrepit little town of Clearview, is where Sheriff Dan Rhodes has kept order in nine previous mysteries (Death by Accident, etc.). Clearview is hardly a hotbed of crime, and the middle-aged sheriff's laid-back style seems a perfect fit. Neither the appearance of ghosts, first at the jail, then in a local cemetery; nor the body of a murdered man found in a grave newly dug for another body; nor the uproar over cemetery thefts raised by the Clearview Sons and Daughters of Texas, a historical preservation group, is enough to get Rhodes too worked up. With quiet good humor, courage and a direct approach, Rhodes goes about the business of soothing, questioning or confronting as needs be. Rhodes's septuagenarian aides, Hack and Lawton, provide information as well as critical (and comical) commentary. A pair of petty and incompetent criminals, Rapper and Nellie, resurface to plague Rhodes again. And the county's newly successful romance novelist, Vernell Lindsey, can't seem to keep her goats fenced in or her neighbors from getting nosey. In some novels, two murders, a shootout, thefts and a drug factory would send the violence quotient over the top, but folksy Dan Rhodes handles it all with pleasing and entertaining aplomb. (July)