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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Hoot from Blacklin County and Bill Crider
I finally got to read the latest in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes murder mystery series. This is novel number 14 in the series for veteran award-winner Bill Crider. I've lost count of all the short stories Rhodes has a part in. Again, Crider does not disappoint. Strolling (or driving) through Blacklin County is a hoot in this new tale of murder and deceit.

Helen...
Published on August 15, 2007 by Benjamin Potter

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Dan Rhodes mystery
Bill Crider's Murder Among the Owls is his 14th Dan Rhodes Mystery.

Sheriff Dan Rhodes believes he's allergic to cats and is more than a little concerned when one slips into the open door of his house one day. He's even more concerned that the cat seems to have 'put off' his Pomeranian, Yancy, who usually rules the roost at the Rhodes' household...
Published on January 29, 2007 by Armchair Interviews


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Hoot from Blacklin County and Bill Crider, August 15, 2007
By 
I finally got to read the latest in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes murder mystery series. This is novel number 14 in the series for veteran award-winner Bill Crider. I've lost count of all the short stories Rhodes has a part in. Again, Crider does not disappoint. Strolling (or driving) through Blacklin County is a hoot in this new tale of murder and deceit.

Helen Harris' cat shows up on Rhodes' doorstep leading up to the discovery of Mrs. Harris' body. The apparent accidental death turns out to be murder and leads our hero all over the county chasing friends, relatives, and rumors as he discovers who killed this active retired teacher who is a member, among other clubs, of the local OWLS (Old Women's Literary Society).

Filled with his normal cast of colorful characters and dry wit, mystery lovers will want to check this book out. Crider is on mark again with this latest edition in the Dan Rhodes saga.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An accidental death -- or is it?, March 17, 2007
By 
Corinne H. Smith (Lancaster County, PA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
When a black cat shows up at Dan Rhodes' house and his wife Ivy recognizes it as belonging to an elderly neighbor, Dan's sherriffing work begins. He finds Helen Harris dead on her kitchen floor, presumably having fallen when changing a light bulb. But a number of things just don't add up, and the verdict is murder. Who could have done it? Her cousin and potential heir Leonard, a local ne'er-do-well who runs

occasional illegal gambling nights and is known for womanizing as well? One of the members of the OWLS, a local book discussion group? A Red Hat Society matron? Someone in the Rusty Nuggets, a group that trots around the countryside with metal detectors in search of treasures? Or perhaps it was Alton Brant, Helen's companion, who turns out NOT to be the Colonel everyone thought he was. Nevertheless, Dan Rhodes is the sheriff of Blacklin County, Texas, and it's up to him to figure out the situation. Along the way he gets shot at, dragged through the mud, nicked by a chain saw, and hit several times with a butterfly purse. Life can be tough in rural Texas.

This is the fourteenth book in the Sherrif Dan Rhodes series, and it's the first one I've had a chance to read. It won't be the last. Dan is almost a western version of Andy Taylor of Mayberry, and he has to deal with as similarly outrageous residents as we used to see in that North Carolina town. (I found only the local newspaper reporter to be annoying.) Since the story is told in third person and from Dan's point of view, he does a great deal of debating with himself and sometimes takes his good old Texas time coming to certain conclusions. Still, this series seems to have a good setting with some memorable characters, and I recommend spending time with them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A laid back enjoyable mystery!, March 24, 2007
Murder Among the OWLS starts off with a cat. This cat walks into the kitchen of Sheriff Dan Rhodes and settles in as if it lives there. Rhodes is surprised and amused until his wife sees the cat and knows what it means. She sends him to check on their neighbor Helen Harris, who never lets the cat out of the house. Rhodes finds Helen dead on the floor of her own kitchen, but is it murder or an accident? The fact that the cat is out indicates murder.

Rhodes finds himself looking for motives and a murderer in unusual places - the OWLS (Older Women's Literary Society), the Red Hat Society, and the Rusty Nuggets (a metal detector/treasure hunting group) are all groups that Helen Harris belonged to. He also crosses paths with a determined reporter, an angry man with a chain saw, two authors who have written a book about him, a bunch of illicit poker players, and his wife, who wants to keep the cat and insists Rhodes isn't really allergic to it.

I enjoyed this book and found Crider's style interesting. The overall mood of the book is very relaxed. While you might think that this would indicate a lack of plot or activity, it doesn't, things just get done in an unhurried fashion. And contributing to this laid back mood, Rhodes seems unflappable, even when disarming a chainsaw wielding man. His big concern is hiding his torn and bloodied shirt from his wife.

Which brings us to characters. This is the fourteenth book in this series and, instead of giving us detailed backgrounds on all the people who populate this small town, Crider expands on the ones who are key to the story and gives minimal but descriptive hints to the characters of the usual players. This keeps the book on track but lets us know this town is populated by real people and gives the book lots of flavor.

Favorite character? Rhodes' wife Ivy, who is a minor character in this book, but with whom he has an interesting relationship. Did I guess it? No. Will I read another? Yes, and I have many to look forward to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reviewing: "Murder Among the Owls: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery" by Bill Crider, April 29, 2009
By 
Along with collecting a car, Sheriff Dan Rhodes has collected a couple of dogs in the course of his many investigations into crime and death in Blacklin County. Usually, he finds the dogs at crime scenes or in the homes of victims. This time a cat finds him.

An ordinary black cat is waiting at his back door one morning. The cat, wearing a red collar, steps inside as if he owns the place and makes himself at home. Ivy, Dan's wife for several books now, knows the cat is named Sam and lives with Helen Harris a couple of blocks away. About seventy and a former school school teacher, Helen Harris never lets the cat outside even though she is always outside working in the yard and doing other things.

Ivy knows a lot about Helen since she occasionally goes with her to the OWLS meetings at Clearview Library. The Older Women's Literary Society (OWLS) is just one of several groups Helen belongs to. Unfortunately, as Sheriff Rhodes soon finds out, Helen won't be attending the group meetings of anything anymore. Helen is dead in her kitchen and it was murder.

As readers of the series know, Rhodes isn't into forensic science, the internet, technology or anything that is remotely high tech. Instead, he asks questions of folks over and over again until somebody screws up and he catches them in a lie. Such is the story here in the fourteenth novel of this long running series as Rhodes works the case and also tries to find a new home for the cat. After all, he is allergic to them despite Ivy's contention that the allergy he has is only psychological.

With frequent allusions to the previous book in the series "A Mammoth Murder" as well as other cases, those readers who are already familiar with the series to this point will appreciate this novel the most. Several running themes such as the young newspaper reporter and her actions, interplay between Hack and Lawton, and others continue making it best to read the series in order. So too does Bill Crider's wonderful gift of bringing to life the people of Clearview, Texas and surrounding East Texas area in another very interesting story.

Kevin R. Tipple (copyright) 2009
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good plot, wonderful characters, under a laid-back tone, March 25, 2008
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This review is from: Murder Among the Owls (Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mysteries) (Mass Market Paperback)
Sheriff Dan Rhodes is a regular guy who lives a simple life in a West Texas town. He thinks he's allergic to cats, he eats hamburgers when not under wife Ivy's watchful eyes, he puts up with the constant backchat of the two old guys who work for him at the jail, and he quietly values the competence of his deputy Ruth Grady.

This 14th installment in Bill Crider's low-key series begins when a black cat wearing a collar strolls through the back door into Rhodes' kitchen at breakfast time. Rhodes, after a few sneezes, wonders how their yappy house dog Yancy will react to the cat, but Ivy's a bit alarmed. She recognizes the cat - Sam, who belongs to 70-something neighbor Helen Harris. And she also knows that Helen never lets Sam go outdoors.

Rhodes walks down the street to check, and finds Helen dead on the floor of her kitchen, apparently having fallen off a stool when changing a light bulb. He isn't so sure, what with the back door unlocked and Sam having gotten outdoors. He summons Ruth and begins to look into the quiet life of the widow Helen Harris. Which presents mysteries that increase at every turn, even as the forensic evidence reveals that she was murdered.

Where is Helen's will, the one witnesses say she recently signed? How much money was she about to make off some old oil leases now that drilling in the area is picking up again? Why is her gentleman friend running around trying to kill her nephew? Where did the nephew - a perennial ne'er do well - get the money for his recent purchase of a local pool hall? Do the answers lurk among Helen's social groups: the Older Women's Literary Society (OWLS), or the Rusty Nuggets metal detector club? Is it possible to find any clues in Helen's obsessively clean and tidy home?

Along the way to finding out, Rhodes is assaulted by a chain saw wielded by the nephew and gets into a wild car chase complete with rain, mud and gunfire. He's also liberally dunked into West Texas mud, stalked by a young nosy reporter, and whacked with a heavy handbag with almost lethal force by a large and furious woman. He quietly persists in his hunt to solve the crime and to find a new home for Sam - other than the Rhodes home.

Crider rolls out a good plot under the laid-back tone of the narrative. Blacklin County, Texas isn't densely populated, but over the years Bill Crider has introduced us to many of its memorable residents - mostly human, sometimes canine. This time we meet a few more people and one cool and collected cat. And we are reminded that ordinary people can be capable of extraordinary foolishness, desperation, jealousy, and pride. Whereby hangs this tale.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Dan Rhodes mystery, January 29, 2007
By 
Bill Crider's Murder Among the Owls is his 14th Dan Rhodes Mystery.

Sheriff Dan Rhodes believes he's allergic to cats and is more than a little concerned when one slips into the open door of his house one day. He's even more concerned that the cat seems to have 'put off' his Pomeranian, Yancy, who usually rules the roost at the Rhodes' household.

Rhodes' wife, Ivy, identifies the cat as Sam. Sam belongs to Mrs. Helen Harris, a neighbor. Ivy is concerned because Helen never allows Sam to go outside. When Rhodes decides to check on Helen, he discovers her body lying in her kitchen. It appears to be a tragic accident, but Rhodes senses all is not as it seems and begins to methodically investigate Helen's life and the folks who are closest to her.

Helen had been a member of several women's groups, including the OWLS (Older Women's Literary Society). And the aging woman had been 'keeping company' with several men. Was her death an accident? Or, did one of her men friends kill her?

Perhaps it was a soured friendship. Rhodes investigates the increasingly mysterious life of Helen Harris, trying to keep ahead of the nosy newspaper reporter who is out to get a scoop.

Crider's mystery is interesting, his characters are quirky and fun and his humor is quiet and dry. Murder Among the Owls is a cozy mystery that many will love. It's an enjoyable read, but I was distracted by Crider's minute descriptions of just about everything. It slowed the pace of the story and didn't move the plot forward.

Armchair Interviews says: A cozy mystery worth reading if you like a slow build.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suberb Dan Rhodes police procedural, January 14, 2007
Sheriff Dan Rhodes opens the screen door to his house only to watch a DHC (domestic house cat) with a red collar and aluminum tag walk inside after rubbing his leg. Dan, allergic to cats, sneezes. His Pomeranian Yancey sees the feline and goes a bit berserk. His noise leads to Dan's wife Ivy coming into the kitchen to ask why her husband is acting mean to Yancey. Dan claims innocence blaming the visitor, but Ivy recognizes Sam the cat who is an in-door pet belonging to neighbor Widow Helen Harris.

At Ivy's insistence, Dan goes to check up on Helen only to find her lying dead on her kitchen floor. A quick look around indicates no foul play, probably a tragic accident but his wife's words haunt Dan. How did the cat get out? Deciding to follow up by looking into Helen's recent activities, Dan starts with her membership as one of the OWLS (Older Women's Literary Society) who would dig for buried artifacts nearby. That seems to go nowhere but he is a bit surprised to learn she was seeing some men making him wonder if one of them committed a homicide. Though going to nowhere on either path, Dan keeps thinking about the cat who "told" him that his owner was dead.

The latest Dan Rhodes police procedural is a terrific entry due to a strong realistic and eccentric cast. The story line is fast-paced starting with the amusing banter between Yancey and Sam and Dan and Ivy. The investigation is cleverly handled by the sheriff who sees to potential ways to seek a killer when he doubts that a homicide occurred. Dan learns one must never co-star with animals as Ivy names Sam the hero in this amusing maybe whodunit.

Harriet Klausner
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Murder Among the Owls (Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mysteries)
Murder Among the Owls (Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mysteries) by Bill Crider (Mass Market Paperback - 2008)
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