Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Spider Silk by Rod Collins A Clever Debut to New Mystery Series!

HENRY “BUD” BLAIR woke with a start, the sheets soaked with sweat. The red glow of the bedside clock read 6:05 a.m. Just a booze dream. But it was the same recurring dream. The bullet always hit him dead center, right in the chest, coming in slow motion, visible. And he couldn’t do anything to stop it. He sat on the edge of the bed for a few minutes, knowing sleep was impossible. Damn. What was I thinking? First time I’ve had more than one in almost four years and I get half drunk. Again.
He thought about the last episode, the Big One over four years ago. He had been drinking in a Portland bar, the Greeks, a cop bar haunted by uniformed street cops, detectives and the usual crowd of wannabes, camp followers and groupies. They gathered after hours to decompress, swap trade stories, bemoan the lack of community support, cuss the press and get drunk. 
Bud’s stops had become part of his evening ritual. Dell BeBe, a burly black detective with a sour reputation for unorthodox methods, was telling him to slow down. When Bud ignored him and signaled the barmaid for another round, BB growled, “Look Honky, you turnin’ into a lush. You used to be a good detective, but lately you just goin’ through the motions. If you had your head on straight, we might have taken that kid in alive.” 
“Screw you, BB! I do my job, and you know it. At least I don’t pull shitty stunts like stealing a punk’s drivers license and sweating him ‘til he bleeds.” 
The bar crowd had gotten quieter as their voices rose, the boozers easing in to hear the angry sparring between the two long-time partners. “You stupid shit, you know that’s how I work my snitches.” 
“Yeah, and they just love you, BB. Just love you. One of these days they’re gonna set you up and bang bang, we both get killed.” 
“Bullshit! You losin’ your nerve ‘cause you got shot. If you hadn’t played the hero, that kid would still be alive.” 
The bar crowd would swear later that even the jukebox stopped—it was that quiet. They said Bud just sat there on the barstool for a long ten seconds, slid off, and smacked ol’ BB with a hard left. BB went flying off the stool and landed on his back. But BB didn’t stay down. He shook his head, growled, got a knee under him, stood back up, took a step toward Bud and hit him once in the belly and once on the chin. Bud staggered back, plopped on his butt, turned sideways gagging and puking on somebody’s shiny black shoes. 
The next morning brought a pounding headache. He vaguely remembered BB helping him up, steering him through the door and into a cab. It was 9:00 a.m. before the Captain called them into his office. He didn’t offer them a chair, just looked at them, staring first at the tape on BB’s broken nose and then at Bud’s swollen mouth. He came around from behind his desk and sat on the front edge, arms crossed. 
“Okay. What I want to know is who started it.” BB and Bud had looked at each other, tried hard to control their expressions and finally started grinning as they pointed to each other and said almost in unison, “He did.” The Captain grimaced. “Right. Thanks for the bullshit. 
BB, would you mind stepping out?” BB turned and eased out the door, closing it softly behind him. The Captain stared at Bud for a long minute. “You know, what my guys do after hours is their business. You wanna have a drink, that’s okay. But what I’m hearing is that one of my senior detectives is spending way too much time at the Greeks. Way too much because it’s following him back to the job. You understand what I’m saying? Look at you. You can’t work like that. Either you get on top of this business or join AA.” 
“Won’t happen again, boss. I’ll take care of it.” 
“You damn well better.” As Bud headed for the door, his boss said, “Hold on. You ever think about a change of scenery?” He handed Bud a job advertisement for an undersheriff in Lake County.
 “I just happen to be good friends with Sheriff Condon.” Bud looked at the flyer. “You firing me?” 
“Nothing like that. Your reputation is still good, but the way you been acting it won’t stay that way.” Bud just stared hard into the Captains eyes for a long fifteen seconds. “Why don’t I take the day off." 
“Good news. Now get out of here. I’ve got work to do.” As he closed the door, Bud thought he could hear the Captain chuckle and mutter something like “…on old Elroy’s shoes, huh?” 
Bud read the Lakeview job flyer as walked down the hall, his shoes almost silent on the worn gray linoleum. He paused as he passed BB’s office door, then shook his head, folded the flyer and stuffed it in his back pocket. He walked out the back door of the precinct and down the three short blocks to the Greeks, ignoring the light mist, “Oregon sunshine,” that silently dampened the streets. When he walked into the Greeks, Rachael, his long-time bartender was behind the bar. She looked up, shook her head and finished filling the dishwasher. Bud slid onto a stool and watched. Finally, Rachael said, “Kinda early Bud.” 
“I’m not on duty.”
 “You on administrative leave?” she asked.
 “No, not that it’s any of your business.” 
She pointed a finger at Bud and said, “It is when you start fights in my bar. There won’t be a next time, Bud. If you start trouble in here again, you’re out. This place will be off limits.” 
Red faced, Bud said, “Point taken Rachael. Hell, I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me.”

Spider Silk
By Rod Collins

With sympathy for our men in blue, I find that I can really appreciate novels based upon the need for a senior officer to leave the job due to a drinking problem... I've read a number of them, but Tom Stone, normally played by Tom Selleck, is a character created by one of my top favorite authors of all time, Robert B. Parker... So anytime I read another with this same theme for the main character, I automatically think of Tom Selleck playing the role for a story I'm fairly certain I'm going to enjoy!

Bud Blair had just gotten into a bar fight with a fellow officer, and his boss had given him a warning... but he also added that he knew of an under-sheriff position and knew the present Sheriff...Bud, at first, thought he was being fired, but that was not it...His boss knew he just needed to take some time off from the high-pressure cases he'd normally been handling...

Bud had taken his advice and gotten the job, especially once he'd been told his wife was leaving... He'd been under-sheriff and was hired into the Sheriff position when his boss had retired...

Now he was living and working in a small town in Oregon, near the high desert country... I would never have put Oregon together with desert so I wanted to learn more, of course...

I hope you enjoy this little side trip as much as I did--it is really beautiful country there as a avid hiker takes us on the Oregon Desert Trail...

Gordon Gooding had been found dead at his farm...At first it was thought to be a fall from the loft of the barn. When Bud Blair and his officers got there, however, they began to apply basic logic to question where the body had been found--face down with his face in mud, quite far to have fallen as if from the loft and when they went up into the loft to see if there had been a struggle or signs of anybody else who'd been there, they looked outside and the sun shown on a beautiful spider silk web that obviously had been there for quite some time, showing no breaks or tears...

Soon the investigation had gone far enough that it was considered to be a murder and now they began to look for the whodunit...

There is an interesting concurrent story that is happening around the same time that is both ironic and, well, kinda funny... What that does is make it a more complex puzzle for readers since we do not know the interplay, if any, between the two criminal activities. The mystery does get quite complex and intertwined, so it is not easy to share without giving anything away, but I did thoroughly enjoy it and think you will too if you enjoy small-town police investigations...

I don't know whether the setting is based upon a specific small town in anywhere America, but what I was most impress with was the totally coordinated interaction and support of all service agencies, including the State Police, Forest Rangers and other service personnel. I couldn't help but wish that this was the way it would be everywhere, since obviously, at least in my opinion, it could easily be done if power struggles were not part of the working relationships...Of course, I gave credit to the Sheriff's Office for initiating that...maybe in future books we'll learn more about how this was instituted... It was obvious that it saved manpower and provided the support that each of the agencies needed when something major occurred.

All of the characters, in fact, were well developed and enough personal information was provided to allow readers ample opportunity to decide whether they would be following the new series... I enjoyed the addition of two native american characters living in the area, both key players in the series. There were also a couple of budding romances but this book was mostly dealing with the major cases as well as some horse thief issues and other small-town crimes that routinely were addressed...

Bud is hesitant to start a new love relationship since his wife divorced him when he relocated, and because of his drinking problems. For Bud, however, it seems that he is exactly where he wants to be and should be...especially with Molly to keep him company...and until he finally builds up his courage to ask for a real date with a woman who has been quite open in letting him know she's 

Bud walked into the station at five minutes after eight, whistling a melody from the old song, Heartaches. The melody was a happy one in spite of the title. 
Sonny nodded, and Michelle said, “My, aren’t we happy this morning. Coffee?” 
He glanced at the coffee maker in surprise. “That would be great. Thanks. Yes, I am in a good mood. Molly and I caught our first trout of  the year, and I got a good night’s sleep. Molly wanted to stay another day, but duty calls.”

Bud had a self-indulgent side, not atypical of bachelors, and he had himself a very nice entertainment center, complete with good speakers, CD changer, tape deck, VCR, DVD and TV. He punched a power button, hit “1’, and sat back. A Dave Brubeck CD slid in place and “Take Five” filled the room with its syncopated rhythm. 
He heard Nancy making a domestic clatter in the kitchen—water running, refrigerator door opening and closing, the drip coffee pot gurgling spasmodically, cupboard doors opening. Good, peaceful sounds. Pain or no pain, he experienced a feeling of contentment.

Routine police investigative skills and more good mystery than violent action keeps everybody very busy, but there is still a lighter side that is created by the character interplay which is fun for readers to get involved in... Do check it out! 


Rod Collins grew up in a family nurtured by the oral storytelling tradition of rural America. Good storytellers (like his grandfather, Charlie Troop) were always welcome at the supper table or around the campfire.
True to that tradition, Collins created his award-winning, contemporary detective mysteries series featuring Sheriff Bud Blair. Book #5, "Not Before Midnight," is well underway.
Rod retired from the US Forest Service in the fall of 1999, and wrote his first book before the year was out. He says, "I'm eight books into the late-life writing career. I just keep on writing. It's an impulse that greets me each morning. And I love it. Stories are the meat of life."
Another of Rod's books, "Bitter's Run," is a stand-alone historical novel set in 1865, immediately following the end of the Civil War. John Bitter plans a solo trip across the Oregon Trail to his farm on Abiqua Creek, but The Good Lord and the beautiful red-haired lass, Morgan Eagan, have other plans.
Rod is also the author of "What Do I Do When I Get There? A New Manager's Guidebook." This little book (called a "gem" by one reviewer), was the 2007 winner of the Pinnacle Book Award.
Rod loves to hear from his readers. Get in touch by leaving a comment on his blog at 

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