I lucked into this book when I was looking around Sheboygan PL and scanned their used books area. The first entry in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series.
Rhodes is running for re-election against a strong competitor. While investigating a business burglary Rhodes is called to a murder scene. During the ensuing investigation Rhodes meets a single lady, gets knocked out, witnesses another murder, witnesses graveside fisticuffs and turmoil, discovers another murder victim, gets beat up, is attacked by wild pigs and sees a suspect mauled by said pigs, gets attacked again, catches a murderer, gets sprayed by a skunk.
This was a good book. I've read several novels in this series and the story was not of much interest. The interesting bit is that this is the initial introduction of a character I have followed for over ten years. Seeing how Crider's characters and setting started and where they have gone since is really interesting to me. While reading I paid much more attention to Rhodes's character than before: His self-doubts over work and personal relationships. His own acknowledgment of his investigative strengths. His dedication to duty and the public leading him to help an old lady remove a skunk and Rhodes getting sprayed. Rhodes's acknowledgment after the skunk spraying that "somebody has to do it". Rhodes is a talker and interviewer; he gets in fights and investigates crime scenes but those are not his strengths. In later novels you learn of Rhodes anger at crimes like murder but not here.
An easy comparison for this is Rhodes versus Andy Taylor. As a half-hour comedy show Mayberry focused on jokes with character an integral part. Only after viewing several episodes do you recognize what a strong personality Andy was. Balancing his son, work, friends, and romance in a small town where, as Sheriff, everyone feels it's fair to observe and judge him. Andy was always fair even though frequently exasperated and annoyed.
1. Rhodes is always self-doubting his work and mistakes. He criticizes his work. Did he ask the wrong questions to the wrong people? Should he have recognized something earlier? He's a worrier at times.
2. Hack and Lawton drag conversations out with Rhodes but do not bicker like in later novels.
3. No crime scene dog adoptions yet.
4. Boars, of course, and reason to fear them.
5. Rhodes starts this at about 45 years of age. I do not recall if age is addressed in the more recent books.
6. How many concussions has Rhodes had over the years? How many beatings?
7. Worries over getting or losing votes. Realizing that (misinformed) votes have to take a back seat to doing the right thing.
8. Blacklin County is a small county with a high body count.
9. Dr. Pepper and bologna sandwiches.