Sunday, September 5, 2010

"Murder in the Air"

Bill Crider is the author of more than fifty novels, including the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series. He is the winner of the Anthony Award and has been nominated for both the Shamus and Edgar Awards.

He applied the Page 69 Test to the new Dan Rhodes novel, Murder in the Air, and reported the following:
Here’s the final paragraph on page 69 of Murder in the Air. It continues onto page 70, but I think that’s acceptable here:
When he’d finished reading Jennifer Loam’s story, Rhodes laid the paper on the table. Hack and Ivy hadn’t been kidding. The article was a powerful indictment of factory farming. Loam said that Hamilton had managed to make such great profits because he’d shifted a lot of his costs to the taxpayers, and that he’d done great harm to the environment. She said that while the chicken farm generated as much pollution as many regulated industries, it was exempt from anti-pollution laws because it was considered “agriculture.”
I could hardly ask for a better paragraph to represent what the book is really about. That one pretty much says it all. Of course the book is a crime novel, not a treatise on factory farms, but my brother’s complaints about a factory farm near his house are what got me started on the book.

In the novel, a man named Lester Hamilton (he’s mentioned on page 69, too) is killed. Sheriff Dan Rhodes, who’s appearing here in the 18th novel about him, believes Hamilton has been murdered, though his death appears to have been accidental. The suspects are all people opposed to the factory farm, and Rhodes has to sort through their alibis while dealing with a mysterious anti-farm activist called Robin Hood, who shoots arrows into the air and occasionally into automobile tires. Since the sheriff has been in office now since 1986, you know he’s going to find the killer, but this time in addition to having to deal with the usual oddball cast of characters, Rhodes has a mystical experience that involves a turtle. I can say no more. To find out about that, you’ll just have to read the book.
Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder, Murder Among the OWLS, Of All Sad Words, and Murder in Four Parts, as well as an excellent write-up about Dan Rhodes on the big screen at "My Book, The Movie."

Visit Bill Crider's website and blog.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue