BILL CRIDER – Of All Sad Words. Sheriff Dan Rhodes #15. St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 2008. Worldwide, paperback, 2009.

   This book also marks the first appearance in the series of C. P. (Seepy) Benton, a new-to-Blacklin County math teacher and would be folk singer whom Judge Parry warns Rhodes about as being a possible vigilante. True enough, after attending Rhodes’s “Citizens’ Academy,” Benton now believes that Rhodes could use a helping hand every so often, and that he, Benton, is just the man to give it.

   Based on a real life friend of Bill’s, Benton joins the rest of the characters in Rhodes’s jurisdiction who continue to pop up in all of the books in the series, all vicarious friends of mine, and yours, too, if you’ve read as many of them as I have.

   This one begins with the death of one of two dull-witted brothers suspected of running a meth lab in their mobile home which has exploded. Turns out that it wasn’t meth that they were working with, but a small full-blown still. Another death occurs before the book is over, and in the course of his investigation, Rhodes has plenty of bumps, scrapes and bruises to show for it.

   While the mystery to be solved is a good one, even better is how well Bill Crider was able to make all of the people and places in this very enjoyable episode in Dan Rhodes’ career come to life — often in a quietly humorous way — but man, these are real people.