For Sheriff Dan Rhodes, things are a mess in Clearview, Texas. There is a pig on the loose in people’s gardens. An elected county official wants Rhodes to buy an M-16 to be ready for the eventual flood of terrorists that surely will be streaming across the nearby border. Rhodes has 2 deputies that yank his chain by never giving him a straight answer. Then there is the constant threat of a few people illegally noodling for catfish in ponds and streams (that’s ‘fishing’ barehanded using your hand as bait). And Lester Hamilton’s industrial chicken farm has fowled (sorry) the air lowering the quality of life for the locals. Oh, don’t forget that a ‘Robin Hood’ is flinging arrows in protest to various local issues.
Old man Griffis is out fishing one morning and discovers a body floating near the shore. Lester Hamilton, the most hated man in the county and noted noodler, looks like he drowned when a catfish he’d grabbed bit back and pulled him under. Problem is who wouldn’t have wanted Lester dead considering what hundreds of thousands of chickens can do to the air.
Crider then takes us on a gentle ride in and around Blacklin County and its kookie and colorful denizens dropping in on the little general store, a roadside fresh food stand, scattered lakes and rivers, a couple profs at the local community college, and, of course, a pallet-filled storeroom in the local WalMart.
Robin Hood confesses, sort of, and the last of a dying breed, a local reporter, confronts who she thinks is behind the murders. Sheriff Rhodes tracks down our intrepid reporter to the final confrontation in, of course, one of the barns of Hamilton's industrial chicken factory (where the Sheriff wishes the county really had bought that M-16).
Despite all the desperate issues on the dashboard of his Charger squad car, Rhodes is still lucky enough to always know where he can find an ice cold Dr. Pepper and a frozen Zero bar. That’s some fine eating for a very good lunch.
I learned of Bill Crider from a strong recommendation by a friend of Men Reading Books, Charlie Stella’s blog. Your brief tour of Blacklin County will take only a couple sittings as this gentle tale is short, interesting, unpretentious, and entirely entertaining. All are requirements for an enjoyable travel diversion or when you are looking for a fun story while waiting for new titles in your power rotation. Crider deserves a hardy recommendation – you won’t regret quietly wandering about Clearview, TX.
East Coast Don