Merrimon Book Reviews


Barbershop vocal harmony, as codified during the barbershop revival era is a style of a cappella, or unaccompanied vocal music

From Merrimon Book Reviews
Murder In Four Parts
Murder In Four Parts by Bill Crider
Bill Crider

Murder and mysteries galore!

Clearview, Texas might not be a huge metropolis but Sheriff Dan Rhodes certainly has his hands full!  First, an invitation to join the Clearview Barbershop Chorus comes out of the blue, particularly since Dan Rhodes can't really sing.  Then, a call about an alligator relieves him of investigating the motive behind that request although capturing an alligator can hardly be called restful, especially not with the possibility of the history of the town's chicken wars coming to the forefront again.  Not even an alligator can distract Dan Rhodes for long.  Lloyd Berry, the director of the chorus, is found murdered.  While investigating the victim's past, Dan Rhodes gets a glimpse below the surface of battles within the chorus.  Some accuse Berry of stealing funds from the chorus.  Rumors about a singing valentine abound, rumors perhaps created by Berry himself.  As Sheriff Rhodes investigates the murder, he must also rein in all the small crimes, neighbor wars and small town eccentrics.  Throughout his duties, the hint of the upcoming election looms.  One wrong step might lead to a lost election.

Bill Crider's MURDER IN FOUR PARTS is a mystery in which setting brings the reader right into the story.  The town and its inner dynamics are as much a delight as the murder mystery puzzle.  From the first few pages, Sheriff Rhodes' humor and commentary on modern culture give this mystery a unique flavor and depth to his sleuth's character.  Some of Sheriff Rhodes' insights into generational internet changes in book culture and life itself add a whole new layer of reading pleasure to this mystery.  Separated from the small-town craziness before him, Dan Rhodes is still a vital part of the local community.  As sleuth, he is the reader's perfect guide to the world of Clearview, bringing the reader into the very heart of the community and yet just separated enough from all the dynamics unfolding that the reader gets a bird's eye view as well.  Wonderful!

MURDER IN FOUR PARTS is full of mystery puzzles, not only in the main murder mystery but all the interpersonal conflicts, secrets, hidden motivations and the strange occurrences happening in Clearview.  Interwoven threads keep the reader guessing until the last page.  Even when the murderer's identity is unveiled, Bill Crider gives the reader several other puzzles that intrigue in the unraveling.  Quite simply, MURDER IN FOUR PARTS is a book for readers who want more mystery in their mysteries.  Each clue adds another thread to the town's fabric.   Intersections between separate sources to the case at hand or separate mysteries in and of themselves keep the reader wanting to return to the book when outside events prevent a straight-through reading.  Although certain clues may not lead to the murderer's identity, Bill Crider excels in the writing of the red herring.  Nothing is superfluous or added simply to delay the murderer's identity but rather each clue adds a richness to the whole world within the mystery.  Each red herring is a mystery itself that adds character and a delightful peek below the surface of the town.  The prose and dialogue has a smooth effortless reading flow that makes a reader feel present in the scenes.  Through and through, MURDER IN FOUR PARTS is just a joy to read.  If you are a mystery lover, Bill Crider's Dan Rhodes Mysteries are a treat from start to finish.

St. Martin's Minotaur (February 2009)
A Dan Rhodes Mystery
Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
Merrimon Book Reviews

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