Compound Murder

compound jacketCompound Murder by Bill Crider

A day in the life of Dan Rhodes, sheriff of Blacklin County, Texas, is an unusual and varied one. His dispatcher, Hack, can never tell a clear or concise story. Dan and his deputies deal with a dead body at the local college, thefts of copper and hair extensions, and a report of a wild hog inside a house in Clearview. The hog turns out to be a pet pig, and provides considerable comic relief. The dead man is Earl Wellington, an English professor who was not well-liked. Suspects in his death include the Dean and his department head at the college, along with student Ike Terrell, accused of plagiarism. A high speed chase after Ike peels out of the college parking lot ends with a cracked windshield and the need for Rhodes to visit the gated compound owned by Able Terrell, Ike’s father. I thought there might be a lot of violence in this book when I read about the compound, but there is more adventure and humor than violence. Dan is happily married, and has a dog who’s scared of his cat. I was amused to learn that the author, a native Texan, was an English professor. This is the 20th book in the Dan Rhodes series, and the first I’ve read, but I felt at home in Clearview right away. The first book is Too Late to Die.


No Mark Upon Her

No Mark Upon Her, by Deborah Crombie

The 14th book in the marvelous British police procedural mystery series that starts with A Share in Death. Family life has always been complicated for Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife Detective Inspector Gemma James and now they are foster parents to young Charlotte. Gemma is finishing her family leave by planning an Alice in Wonderland themed party for Charlotte when Duncan gets called in to consult on a case right before he’s due for his turn at family leave.

 The setting is charming: Henley, a village on the Thames River thirty-five miles from London where Detective Inspector Becca Meredith is secretly in training for a possible spot on the women’s Olympic rowing team. Respected but not well-liked, Becca rows alone, and disappears after an evening row. Reported missing by her ex-husband Freddie, search and rescue teams are called in, and we meet Tavie and her dog Tosh and Kiernan and his dog Finn. Kiernan is also a rower, and is making a beautiful wooden scull for Becca, his lover. To complicate matters, a retired police commissioner lives nearby, whom Becca accused of assault a year earlier. No Mark Upon Her is an intriguing mix of the domestic life of Duncan, Gemma and their friends, the setting of the quaint village with competitive rowing and rescue dogs, and violence and suspense added in.