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Following Booked for a Hanging, Anthony Award-winner Bill Crider brings back his amiable, computer-phobic sheriff Dan Rhodes to investigate a murder that may or may not be related to a recent wave of emu-rustling.
For an officer of the law, Blacklin County, Texas, used to be pretty peaceful, but now, what with the emu-rustling, cockfights, and protests at the new Wal-Mart store — not to mention murder — Sheriff Dan Rhodes has his hands full.
Hit hard by the collapse of his little hardware store, Elijah ("Lige") Ward has taken to chaining himself to the Wal-Mart doors and generally making a nuisance of himself. And when Lige's dead body turns up, floating down a river in a portable toilet, Rhodes finds he has quite a case to investigate. What was the connection between Lige and chickens? Lige and the Palm Club? And was he involved in the area's emu thefts? It seems that raising emus ("taste like steak, not chicken") is a booming business, so much so that emu ("calmer than ostriches and more resistant to disease") are being stolen left, right, and center by would-be emu ranchers with little respect for the law.
From theft to murder, the local crime spree seems unstoppable. But with a little help from the computer foisted on him by aging deputies Hack and Lawton, plus some good old-fashioned detective work, Rhodes just may be able to straighten out his county.