Something is rotten in the state of Texas, and though Sheriff Dan Rhodes knows what it is, and who’s responsible, there’s not a blamed thing he can do about it.
Chickens—750,000 of them—inhabit Lester Hamilton’s custom-built 33-building complex. They’ve made him a poultry mogul. They’ve also made him the odds-on favorite to win any Blacklin County unpopularity contest because they stink. “Smells like money,” cackles Lester, a response not calculated to smooth ruffled Blacklin County feathers. Sheriff Rhodes is nothing if not empathetic, but since the chickens are scrupulously law-abiding, he can only commiserate with Lester’s neighbors. Inevitably, someone goes further. When Lester’s lifeless body is found floating among the catfish in Murdock’s rock pit, Rhodes sees past the staged accident to murder most fowl. But now the task is how to cull the murderer from a suspect list that includes virtually every citizen in Blacklin County. His wife Ivy sees a killer in Hal Gillis, who discovered Lester’s body. Professor Qualls, who, rather surprisingly, stands to benefit from Lester’s will, also has his adherents. And how about that seemingly omnipresent Blacklin County incarnation of Robin Hood? Doesn’t he have potential? So it goes.
Vintage Crider. When amiable, shrewd small-town Sheriff Rhodes (Murder in Four Parts, 2009, etc.) gets cracking, he can make an omelet with the best of them.