Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Of All Sad Words"

Bill Crider is the author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series and other books. The first book in this series won an Anthony Award for "best first mystery novel" in 1986.

He applied the Page 69 Test to the newly-released Of All Sad Words, the latest Dan Rhodes mystery, and reported the following:
In Of All Sad Words, page 69 happens to be the first page of chapter nine. Sheriff Dan Rhodes has just arrived at the jail with a trunk full of confiscated moonshine. Maybe fans of Thunder Road will be tempted to read further, assuming there’s anyone around who remembers Thunder Road. Sheriff Rhodes does, since the movie gets a couple of mentions in the book. Not on page 69, however.

Page 69 also features two of the series’ continuing characters: Lawton, who’s a jailer, and Hack, who’s the dispatcher. They aren’t exactly beloved characters. More like irritants, especially to the sheriff. In this scene, however, they restrain themselves and don’t engage in their usual snappy patter. That’s typical. It would have made page 69 a lot spiffier if they had, but they never do what the anyone wants them to.

The page also advances the plot because Hack suggests that the customers for the moonshine might be getting a little nervous. This allows Rhodes to explain a bit about the law and to introduce the possibility that the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission might want to look into some things in Blacklin County. A writer would never mention something like that if a representative of the commission wasn’t going to show up later on.

Naturally, I’d hope that people reading this page of the book would want to read more, especially if they’d read the preceding 68 pages, in which a trailer house blows up, a man is murdered, and Rhodes gets chased by a monster truck. You’d think some of that would happen on page 69, but it’s just my luck that it doesn’t.
Learn more about the author and his work at Crider's website and his blog.

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder and Murder Among the OWLS as well as an excellent write-up about Dan Rhodes on the big screen at "My Book, The Movie."

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue