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by Bill Crider

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-38674-0
Publisher: Minotaur

Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes can’t sing a lick. So how come the local barbershop chorus has designs on his baritone?

Lloyd Berry, musical director of the Clearview Community Barbershop Chorus, issues an invitation that’s gracious but puzzling because Sheriff Rhodes knows exactly how flat, stale and unmusical his baritone sounds. Why would Berry want the sheriff to join the chorus? Clearly, he thinks, there’s a hidden agenda lurking, and of course he’s right. In a group dedicated to four-part harmony, the prevailing mood of the membership is anything but harmonious. The only thing worse than the smoldering feuds are the conflicts that have burst into flame. Berry’s really seeking an enforcer, a man with better muscles than pipes. But his efforts at making peace are too late to save himself, and he’s swiftly bludgeoned into history. By chorister or choristers unknown? At first it certainly seems that way. But soon enough the sheriff discovers, as he usually does in this durable series (Of All Sad Words, 2008, etc.), that things are not as they seem. The estimable Berry had hidden depths and an intriguing list of vengeful enemies, any one of whom might have brought the music director to his ultimate dissonance.

Underplaying has always been the lynchpin of Sheriff Rhodes’s charm, but this time the gap between laid-back and boring is perilously narrow.