Review: Dead, to Begin With by Bill Crider

Dead, to Begin With by Bill Crider
Dead, to Begin With by Bill Crider
Dead, to Begin With by Bill Crider is the 24th book in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mysteries series (available August 8, 2017).

One of the great joys of life is coming home, kicking off my shoes, and snuggling in my recliner with a cup of tea and a good book. The joy is increased tenfold when the book is a visit with my old friend Sheriff Dan Rhodes and all the quirky characters who inhabit the tiny town of Clearview in Blacklin County, Texas. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading the 24th book in the series, Dead, to Begin With.

Bill Crider introduced us all to Sheriff Dan a long time ago. Dan Rhodes is a patient, practical man who skillfully manages the glitches and complications of policing in the town where he was born and raised. And he would have to be extremely patient to put up with the support staff in his office. Just listen to this conversation:

[Read Terrie Farley Moran's review of Dead, to Begin With…]

Hack Jensen, the dispatcher, answered the call. For a few seconds he listened. Then he said, “You sure about where she’s headed?”

Rhodes put down the report he’d been reading, something about a burglary at a house on one of the county roads.

“I’ll tell the sheriff,” Hack said. “He’s right here. Don’t worry, Harvey. He’ll stop her.” Hack ended the call and turned to Rhodes. “Elaine Tunstall’s off her meds again.”

“Uh-oh,” Rhodes said, taking off his reading glasses and putting them in his pocket.

“Harvey said he thought she’d been takin’ ’em, but she’s good about pretendin’. She musta got to feelin’ so good that she figgered she didn’t need ’em. You know how it goes.”

Rhodes knew how it went. “I’m just guessing here, but I have a feeling the meds aren’t the problem Harvey called about.”

“Nope. What he called about is a bad haircut.”

You can see that a dentist would have an easier time pulling all four of Hack’s wisdom teeth than Dan has trying to get a straight answer. Still, Dan drags the information out of Hack and hustles off to solve the Elaine Tunstall problem. The sheriff manages to prevent Elaine from doing bodily harm and climbs into his official Tahoe when the radio crackles to life. Hack, for once, is short and to the point.  

“You need to get over to the opera house, Sheriff. Looks like there’s trouble.”

“What kind of trouble?” Rhodes asked.

“Jake Marley’s dead,” Hack said.

And so the sheriff’s real challenge begins. Who would kill a reclusive millionaire who had newly returned home to Clearview and was investing copious amounts of money in restoring the old opera house to its former glory? Dan explores motives tied to the past and the present. But while trying to solve the mystery, he has to deal with Professor Seepy Benton, who is very sure that the murder is connected to the ghosts that he believes are haunting the opera house—not to mention the two fiction writers who want to ask questions about Dan’s sex life for their novel series about Sheriff Sage Barton, who everyone in Clearview thinks is based exclusively on Sheriff Dan.

Through it all, there are enough small-town hijinks to distract a lesser man from his mission, but Sheriff Dan is focused like a laser on finding a killer. Still, we readers get to laugh out loud at some of the goings on that are just another happenstance on any given day in Clearview.

If this is the first you’ve heard about Sheriff Dan, don’t worry about starting at the beginning. You can jump right in at any time and enjoy the community antics and follow the clues to solve a murder. Every novel in this series can function as a standalone.

And this I promise, once you have visited Clearview and ridden in the Sheriff’s Tahoe with Dan Rhodes, you will want to do it again and again, no matter the order in which you acquire the books. I loved this storyline and cannot wait for the 25th book to find out what Bill Crider and Dan Rhodes have in store for us next.

If you need just the slightest more convincing that you will love Sheriff Dan, click over to the fabulous GIFnotes that our own Adam Wagner designed to entice you to visit Clearview in Blacklin County, Texas! I promise you won’t be sorry.

Read an excerpt from Dead, to Begin With!


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

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Agatha Award winning novelist Terrie Farley Moran is the author of the beachside Read 'Em and Eat cozy mystery series. She also co-writes the New Orleans Scrapbooking mystery series with Laura Childs. Terrie has published numerous short stories including the recent Derringer Award winner, “Inquiry and Assistance”.  Her web address is


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