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Authors: Bill Crider

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Bill Crider - Dan Rhodes 09 - Death by Accident

BOOK: Bill Crider - Dan Rhodes 09 - Death by Accident
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Bill Crider - Dan Rhodes 09 - Death by Accident
Dan Rhodes [9]
Bill Crider
Worldwide Library (1997)
Tags:
Mystery: Thriller - Sheriff - Texas
Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes' cases usually concern the bad boys of rural Blacklin County or the slightly wacky citizens who are causing trouble that tends to be funny rather than criminal. But although at first the dead man floating in the old swimming pool at the edge of town seems to have been an accident victim—a staggering drunk tumbling into the water—Rhodes and his small but colorful staff soon uncover murder.
It's the second strange death in two weeks. The other was that of John West, killed when he blew up carrying a gasoline can across a field. But where was the Cherokee wagon John was carrying the gas to? And why is his widow so jaunty? West was a solid citizen; Pep Yeldell, the swimming pool decedent, was a man with many enemies
In his quiet way, Rhodes goes about looking for a connection and a killer—a quest that takes Rhodes, no athlete now in spite of his wife's efforts to keep him on a diet of little meat and lots of greens, up a tree and puts him at the mercy of a vicious killer.

DEATH BY ACCIDENT

 

Book Nine of the Dan Rhodes Mysteries

 

By Bill Crider

 

 

A Gordian Knot Mystery

Gordian Knot is an imprint of Crossroad Press

Digital Edition published by Crossroad Press

Digital Edition Copyright 2014 / Bill Crider

 

Cover images courtesy of:

Nicolas Raymond
(Texas flag image)

 

DISCOVER CROSSROAD PRESS

 

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Meet the Author

 

 

BILL CRIDER
is the author of more than fifty published novels and numerous short stories. He won the Anthony Award for best first mystery novel in 1987 for Too Late to Die and was nominated for the Shamus Award for best first private-eye novel for Dead on the Island.  He won the Golden Duck award for “best juvenile science fiction novel” for Mike Gonzo and the UFO Terror.  He and his wife, Judy, won the best short story Anthony in 2002 for their story “Chocolate Moose.”  His story “Cranked” from Damn Near Dead (Busted Flush Press) was nominated for the Edgar award for best short story.

 

Check out his homepage at: http://
www.billcrider.com
or take a look at his peculiar blog at
http://billcrider.blogspot.com

 

Book List

 

Novels:

 

The Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery Series

Too Late to Die

Shotgun Saturday Night

Cursed to Death

Death on the Move

Evil at the Root

Booked for a Hanging

Murder Most Fowl

Winning Can Be Murder

Death by Accident

A Ghost of a Chance

A Romantic Way to Die

Red, White, and Blue Murder

“The Empty Manger,” (novella in the collection entitled
Murder, Mayhem, and Mistletoe
.)

A Mammoth Murder

Murder Among the O.W.L.S.

Of All Sad Words

Murder in Four Parts

Murder in the Air

The Wild Hog Murders

The Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen

Compound Murder

 

The Carl Burns Mystery Series

One Dead Dean

Dying Voices

…A Dangerous Thing

Dead Soldiers

 

The Truman Smith Mystery Series

Dead on the Island

Gator Kill

When Old Men Die

The Prairie Chicken Kill

Murder Takes a Break

 

The Sally Good Mystery Series

Murder Is An Art

A Knife in the Back

A Bond with Death

 

The Stanley Waters Mystery Series (Willard Scott, Co-Author)

Murder under Blue Skies

Murder in the Mist

 

Stand-Alone Mystery and Suspense Novels

Blood Marks

The Texas Capitol Murders

Houston Homicide (with Clyde Wilson)

 

House-Name Spy Fiction

The Coyote Connection (a Nick Carter book, in collaboration with Jack Davis)

 

Western Novels

Ryan Rides Back

Galveston Gunman

A Time for Hanging

Medicine Show

Outrage at Blanco

Texas Vigilante

 

As Colby Jackson:

Dead Man’s Revenge

Gabby Darbins and the Slide-Rock Bolter

 

Horror Novels (all published under the pseudonym “Jack MacLane”)

Keepers of the Beast

Goodnight, Moom

Blood Dreams

Rest in Peace

Just before Dark

 

Books for Young Readers

A Vampire Named Fred

Muttketeer

Mike Gonzo and the Sewer Monster

Mike Gonzo and the Almost Invisible Man

Mike Gonzo and the UFO Terror

 

Short Story Collections:

The Nighttime is the Right Time

 

This Book Is Dedicated to the Memory

of Ellen Nehr

 

DEATH BY ACCIDENT

 

 

Chapter One

 

T
he Clearview Sons and Daughters of Texas had put a lot of time and money into improving the Old Settlers’ Grounds since the last time Sheriff Dan Rhodes had been there, a year or so ago.  His visit this time wasn’t going to be any more pleasant than the last one, however, if the phone call Hack Jensen had told him about was any indication.

Rhodes drove onto the grounds through an arched gateway that no longer leaned precariously to one side.  The name of the campground had been freshly painted in black letters on the span of the arch.  Rhodes could see bright new wood on the dance pavilion, too.  All the rotted boards had been replaced in the floor, roof, and steps.  The sides had been straightened and braced.

Years ago Rhodes had square danced on the pavilion with girls were who grown up and married now, with children older than they had been on those summer nights when they had gone allemande left and do-si-do.  Some of the women still lived in town, though most of them were long gone from Clearview.  Rhodes had heard that one of them was a dean at a community college and that another was a social worker somewhere near Dallas.  He wondered if they ever thought about the square dances or the Old Settlers’ Grounds.  He figured they probably didn’t.

Rhodes drove the county car past the old pavilion on a road covered in fresh white gravel, another recent improvement if you didn’t mind a little dust.  He stopped his car by Ty Berry’s blue Ford pickup and got out.

The day was warm, and the sun was high in a blue sky flecked with only a few high clouds, but it was November and there was a not-so-subtle hint of fall in the air.  Rhodes wasn’t sure just what it was. It could have been the angle of the sunlight through the high tree limbs, the light breeze that swished through the red and yellow leaves, or just the smell of things, as if some faint scent of the high country was sneaking in on the breeze.

Rhodes started down the path toward the two old swimming pools that had been built down by the river.  Long ago, when the citizens of Blacklin County had devoted a full week every summer to celebrating the contributions of the county’s original settlers, the Grounds had been filled for days with laughing people.  There had been playgrounds for the children, and the swimming pools had been popular spots for cooling off.

But the yearly celebrations had stopped even before Rhodes was a boy.  There was no evidence remaining of see-saws or swings, and the pools had become dangerous.  Their concrete sides had cracked, and chunks had broken off into the pools.  The river still flowed nearby and still fed water to the pools, but no one was supposed to swim in them anymore.  People did, occasionally but it was a risky business, if not exactly against the law.

The shade of the pecan trees was cool, and Rhodes heard a squirrel scampering through the branches.  A pecan fell from above, missing Rhodes by not more than a couple of feet.  He wasn’t sure whether it had been dropped, dislodged, or deliberately aimed in his direction.  You never could tell about squirrels.

Rhodes looked over toward what was left of the Wishing Well.  He had thrown a penny or two into the well when he was a kid, but he couldn’t remember what he had wished for.  Whatever it had been, it hadn’t been what he had found there a year ago.

Rhodes went on down the path, dry leaves crackling under his feet.  Turning a bend and looking down the steep bank, he saw Ty Berry standing by one of the swimming pools.

Berry was the president of the Clearview Sons and Daughters of Texas.  He was short and thin, and he’d drawn his eyebrows together so often in his perpetual worry that some precious bit of Blacklin County history was going to be destroyed or forgotten that there was a permanent line running up from the bridge of his nose.  He had been the driving force behind the restoration of the Old Settlers’ Grounds, and he had personally raised nearly every penny of the money that had been spent on the project.

He had both hands thrust into the pockets of the blue nylon jacket he was wearing.  A Clearview Catamounts baseball cap covered his balding head, and he was pacing nervously up and down the edge of the pool.

The water in the pool was as clear and green as Rhodes remembered having ever seen it.  Leaves floated on the surface and covered the bottom, but they had fallen only recently and there was no dirt or slime to be seen.

The Sons and Daughters had spent quite a bit of their money in cleaning the pools and removing the debris of years from them.  They hadn’t repaired the cracks, and they hadn’t made the pools safe for swimming.  There hadn’t been enough money for that, and the pools were so far out of town that repairing them wouldn’t have been advisable.  It would just have encouraged unsupervised swimming.  But the Sons and Daughters had certainly made the pools look better.

The sunlight filtered through the tree branches and the dying leaves and sparkled off the water, and somewhere high above, a bird, either a year-round resident or one that hadn’t yet left for a warmer climate farther south, whistled softly.  In the river, three turtles sitting on a log seemed to sense Rhodes’ presence at the same instant, and all three slipped into the smooth green water, hardly rippling its surface.

Rhodes thought it was a peaceful and relaxing scene, except for one thing: the dead body that floated in the water of the nearest pool, only a few feet from where Ty Berry was standing next to a bright red and white sign that read:

 

DANGER!

ABSOLUTELY NO SWIMMING!

THE WATER IN THIS POOL COULD BE POLLUTED!

NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY!

DANGER!

 

Berry looked up, saw Rhodes, and pulled his right hand out of his jacket pocket to wave.  Rhodes waved back and walked down the crumbling concrete steps to the pool.

“I called the ambulance, too,” Berry said.  “I guess you beat them here.”

“I was in the neighborhood,” Rhodes said.

 

Chapter Two

 

R
hodes had been on his way back to Clearview after driving to Thurston to check on a welding machine that had been abandoned on a county road.  The man who’d called in about the welding machine wanted to know if he could keep it if no one claimed it, and Rhodes had been forced to disappoint him.  The machine had been reported stolen in a neighboring county the previous evening, along with the truck that the owner had used to transport it.  The welding machine was in a ditch by the side of the road, but there had been no sign of the truck.

BOOK: Bill Crider - Dan Rhodes 09 - Death by Accident
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