MURDER AMONG THE OWLS , the fourteenth offering in BILL CRIDER ’s Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery series, has no literary conceits; it is nothing more—nor less—than a pleasant police procedural set in the sleepy burg of Clearview. This time out, Rhodes is faced with the apparent slip-and-fall death of seventyish neighbor Helen Harris. Not fooled by the upended stool and burned-out lightbulb, he “somehow [doesn’t] believe” it was an accident at all. The laconic lawman brings his dry wit and down-home sensibilities to bear on his investigation, pondering how Mrs. Harris’s cat, Sam, escaped the deceased woman’s house, interrogating the starchy members of her reading group (Older Women’s Literary Society, the “OWLS” of the title), and thwarting her unruly nephew Leo’s chain saw attack on her grieving beau, Alton Brant. One could fault Crider for the happy sheen he applies to the mystery genre, but that would be to miss the point entirely.