Bill Crider, Murder Among the Owls Reviews

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“Murder Among the Owls ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 28/10/2006

Murder Among the Owls
Bill Crider
St. Martin's January 2007, $23.95
ISBN: 0312348096

Sheriff Dan Rhodes opens the screen door to his house, only to watch a DHC (domestic house cat) with a red collar and aluminum tag walk inside after rubbing his leg. Dan, allergic to cats, sneezes. His Pomeranian Yancey sees the feline and goes a bit berserk. His noise leads to Dan's wife Ivy coming into the kitchen to ask why her husband is acting mean to Yancey. Dan claims innocence, blaming the visitor, but Ivy recognizes Sam the cat who is an indoor pet belonging to neighbor Widow Helen Harris.

At Ivy's insistence, Dan goes to check up on Helen, only to find her lying dead on her kitchen floor. A quick look around indicates no foul play, probably a tragic accident, but his wife's words haunt Dan. How did the cat get out? Deciding to follow up by looking into Helen's recent activities, Dan starts with her membership as one of the O.W.L.S. (Older Women's Literary Society) who would dig for buried artifacts nearby. That seems to go nowhere, but he is a bit surprised to learn she was seeing some men, making him wonder if one of them committed a homicide. Though going to nowhere on either path, Dan keeps thinking about the cat who "told" him that his owner was dead.

The latest Dan Rhodes police procedural is a terrific entry due to a strong realistic and eccentric cast. The storyline is fast-paced, starting with the amusing banter between Yancey and Sam, and Dan and Ivy. The investigation is cleverly handled by the sheriff, who sees no potential ways to seek a killer when he doubts that a homicide occurred. Dan learns one must never co-star with animals, as Ivy names Sam the hero in this amusing maybe whodunit.

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