In tiny Blacklin County, Texas, a curse is nothing more than a four-letter word hollered in a barroom or muttered in the heat. So Sheriff Dan Rhodes is more curious than concerned when he dutifully responds to a complaint of witchcraft.
When Dr. Samuel Martin, the local dentist - and unpopular landlord - claims he's been hexed by a tenant, Rhodes does his best to smooth things out between the distressed D.D.S. and the would-be witch. But in two shakes of a black cat's tail, the good doctor disappears...and his wife turns up bludgeoned to death.
For Rhodes, it means there's a bad moon rising over Blacklin County. And now he's got to do the voodoo he does best - asking pointed questions and extracting the painful truth from some tight-lipped suspects who also bite...
Cursed to Death is the third in Bill Crider's Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, after Too Late to Die and Shotgun Saturday Night. It was the first one I read (back in February) and I liked it. Because I read a lot and I'm getting old and my memory ain't what it once was and four months or so have passed since I lsitened to it, the details are getting a bit sketchy. I do remember I enjoyed it.
Decent characters - Dan Rhodes himself and the support cast of Deputy Ruth Grady and the jailhouse double act of Hack and Lawton. Likable - all of them - with some banter and mickey taking and pushing of buttons, usually with Rhodes as the punchline in the joke. Rhodes, as a Sheriff and in all the books I've read so far, a solver of murders is honest and diligent and very old school. Ask questions, get answers, then ask some more. He's not trigger happy and he isn't Superman when it comes to physicality, often coming off second best in the inevitable brawl he gets sucked into - usually a reluctant, uncooperative witness who doesn't fancy answering Rhodes' questions. He doesn't lack courage.
A small town Texan setting with an unusually high death rate!
Plot - a missing person - a dentist, then a murder with the victim - the wife of the aforementioned missing person, and a few quirks in the tale with some eccentricities - events and character traits - passing off as normal in this rural Texan town. Rhodes does the investigating.
Pace - not laboured, but not 100 mph either. It's kind of appropriate for the story, with the odd diversion for a bit of backstory on Rhodes' history or a meal with the girlfriend, Ivy. The usual stuff that gives a bit of flesh to a book without detracting from the story being told.
Outcome - satisfying. Rhodes get his man/woman in the end and they all live happily ever after until book four in the series when we get to go around again.
I have seen a review which critices the series for being a bit formulaic which I can understand. I actually see that as a positive. I like comfort reading on occasions. There's a familiarity to the books with known characters behaving normally and predictably with the odd twist thrown in. My expectations ie entertainment/enjoyment/satisfaction are met.
A solid, if unspectacular - 3.5 from 5
Read - (listened to) February, 2022
Published - 1988
Page count - 162 (4 hrs 43 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible