Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer


Bill Crider Shotgun Saturday Night

Shotgun Saturday Night is Sheriff Dan Rhodes’s second outing, and the novel is a pretty twisty, turny narrative of murder and violence, as well as the sideways humor that author Bill Crider always leavens into the story. I’d read the book before and enjoyed it, but my memory being what it is, I couldn’t remember who had done what to who, so traipsing along for Rhodes’s investigation was just as much fun this time as it was the first time.

It opens up with an amputated arm being delivered to Rhodes. Pretty soon, more pieces of the puzzle turn up, seriously – pieces! – and the country sheriff is up to his ears in body parts, bikers, and murder.

Blacklin County is one of those fictional places where the citizens just grow on readers. As the series progresses, Crider adds layers and layers of history onto each individual, though still maintaining an easy identification. I enjoy getting to see those folks against just as much as I enjoy the eateries Crider describes in the narrative. Lester’s BBQ reminds me a lot of the old Bob’s BBQ I went to back in Ada, Oklahoma. I enjoy the local Swadley’s BBQ in OKC, but the people in Bill’s book and the downhome atmosphere just don’t show up in these big city places.

In addition to the murders and the colorful characters, Crider throws in a lot of humor and everyday problems for Rhodes to deal with. The woman who periodically calls in stating she’s gone blind is a hoot, and things like that would really happen in the small town I grew up in. The author obviously knows his little town well, even though Blacklin County is fictional. Crider obviously bases the place on remembrances of his own.

There’s a lot more going on in this novel than in the first one. Rhodes gets beaten up a few times, the FBI shows up, another funeral gets disrupted, and there are a few dozen movie and book references that I loved. True movie and book fans will be acquainted with them, but it doesn’t matter if you’re familiar with them or not. A quick trip to the internet will probably get you information in stuff you just might develop an interest in.

Ivy, Rhodes’s new girlfriend, shows surprising moxie in this novel that blew me away when I read it, yet at the same time I totally believed it. She’s become a nice part of the series by this second book, and I enjoy the shy way the romance between Rhodes and Ivy has developed.

These books are heartily recommended as great summer fare. They’re engaging and yet not demanding. Perfect for those summer evenings when you happen to nod off while relaxing.

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