Dan Rhodes’ last case.
The sheriff of Blacklin County, Texas, has nothing against state-of-the-art forensics, but he’s found that just talking to people often gets results. Stopping to help two cars pulled over by the side of the road, he's surprised to find himself facing a pistol held by local bad boy Kenny Lambert, who’s run another man off the road while high on meth. Disarming Kenny, Dan talks to the other man, who identifies himself as Cal Stinson, a Clearview resident heading to Thurston to look at the old school building that’s the center of a major controversy among local families. Dan’s next call finds him driving to Thurston, where Wanda Wilkins has reported a dead body in the old school. The dead man told Wanda his name was Bruce Wayne, but Dan recognizes him as Cal Stinson. Meanwhile, annoyed by a gossip blog, the mayor of Clearview hires Dan’s friend Seepy Benton, a college teacher and part-time detective whose computer skills have often helped Dan out (Dead to Begin With, 2017, etc.), to identify the blogger. Seepy suspects that it's Roger Prentiss, but Prentiss reveals that he's been working with his former college roommate, Lawrence Gates, who's gone missing—and sometimes uses aliases. Lawrence seems to have been obsessed by the Thurston schoolhouse, and it turns out that he's the dead man. Wanda tells Dan that three wealthy families are involved in the school controversy: those of Charlie Reese and the Falkners, who want the school torn down, and the Hunleys, a father and son known for their heroism in several wars, who want to save it. Dan has the feeling Kenny Lambert knows something, but by now he and his friend are hiding from two other troublemakers who have it in for them. Dan soon has more problems on his hands, but he quietly pursues several leads until he has it all figured out.
Crider’s sadly final entry provides a twisty mystery and plenty of the gentle humor and quirky characters fans have come to love.