cover image Dead, to Begin With: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery

Dead, to Begin With: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery

Bill Crider. Minotaur, $25.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-07853-7

In Crider’s fun 24th mystery featuring laid-back Blacklin County, Tex., sheriff Dan Rhodes (after 2016’s Survivors Will Be Shot Again), reclusive Jake Marley, the 60ish scion of a wealthy oil boom–era family, takes a fatal fall onto the stage of the Clearview Opera House, a movie theater that’s been closed for decades. The Clearview, which Jake bought and restored, was about to mark its reopening with a performance of a Texas version of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. In his will, Jake, who was to play Marley’s ghost, stipulates four local people to play other roles—and requires Rhodes to attend—as a condition for the theater to receive continued funding. As Rhodes delves into what he suspects is a murder case, he has to put up with a number of minor distractions, starting with the annoying banter between dispatcher Hack Jensen and jailer Lawton, who “thought of themselves as the Abbott and Costello of Blacklin County.” Readers will cheer Rhodes along as he sorts through a tangle of old secrets and personal relationships en route to the satisfying solution. [em]Agent: Kim Lionetti, BookEnds. (Aug.) [/em]