Done: Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen by Bill Crider, 2012, 9780312640170.
Sheriff Dan Rhodes has two more murders to solve.
As I was reading this I got to thinking that Rhodes seemed more of a hard-ass than in previous novels. That he was more to the point. That he was not as outwardly, and inwardly, sympathetic to witnesses and victims, "Rhodes didn't have any comforting words for her. He didn't think there were any." Rhodes feels emotionally harder in this one, even when dealing with old high school classmates as suspects.
Rhodes tougher personality is commented on by a couple characters so maybe I didn't realize all that by myself. On the last page Rhodes asks his wife Ivy, "He told me I'd gotten tough." Ivy laughs and Rhodes asks, "You don't think I'm tough?" Ivy responds, "You are when you have to be, and you had to be this time."
Maybe part of this feeling is the lack of a more humorous subplot. Previous novels have a bit more laughter and shenanigans along with the murder investigation. After all, Rhodes has always had to deal with the sorts of daily hullabaloos that don't go away. People focus on their own problems and demand Rhodes act no matter who may have been murdered. Rhodes still hates murder. Murder still angers him and the discovery makes his "stomach feel suddenly hollowed out."
Anyway. A local hairdresser is murdered in her shop. There are plenty of suspects because the hairdresser liked married men. Since the hairdresser was young, pretty and fun those married men liked her back. When Rhodes finds out she was blackmailing some of those men the questions multiply.
Shortly after the first murder the owner of an antiques store is shot dead. How are the cases related? What about the Hispanic guys who were squatting at an abandoned hotel across the street from the hairdressers? What about the "reclamation center" that seems to be dealing in stolen metals?
Rhodes figures it all out but has to endure Seepy Benton's personality and singing to do so. Hack and Lawton jaw back and forth but Rhodes keeps his calm.
1. Recurring theme of constant change and how the town of Clearview is changing and falling apart. Literally falling apart, with abandoned buildings and unpaved roads slowly turning into gravel.
2. "Benton was explaining his new exercise program. Rhodes didn't think Hack was interested, but Benton taught college students. Lack of interest was no deterrent."
3. Paperback aficionado and mortician Ballinger buys an e-reader. "Eb McBain," Ballinger said. "Nothing on here by him yet. He's dead, you know. No more books about Carella and hawes and Meyer Meyer. It's a shame."
4. Gratuitous Joe Lansdale and Chen Shuan reference.
5. Gratuitous wild hogs.
6. Here is Rhodes detecting philosophy in a nutshell. Rhodes didn't know, but he was going to find out.
7. "Werewolf perfect" hair and "With Lonnie, boots were still in style for manly footwear."
8. Gratuitous poetry memorization.
9. These novels have always covered changes. Clearview downtown falling apart. Business going to Wal Mart. Rhodes getting older. Society seeming to fall apart and people getting separated and alienated from one another.
10. But, things stay the same. Rhodes enjoys barbecue and loves his wife. People socilaize out at the bars. Life keeps going on.