Saturday, January 11, 2014

Review: A Killing at Cotton Hill: A Samuel Craddock Mystery by Terry Shames

Former Chief of Police Samuel Craddock knows he should have done far more when he hears that Dora Lee has been murdered in her home in Cotton Hill. She had called him the evening before to tell him that somebody was sitting out on the road by her farm watching her. Craddock was in bed for the night and with her grandson, Greg, out there at the farm Craddock figured she was just being nervous and everything would be fine.

“I told her the same thing I always used to tell her: ‘Dora Lee, if you’re still worried tomorrow morning, you call me and I’ll see what I can find out.’” (Page 8)

Now Dora Lee, who he has known her since they were little kids in school together many years ago, is dead thanks to being stabbed with a Bowie knife in her chest. According to Rodell Skinner, the current Chief of Police for Jarrett Creek, Texas, the grandson Greg did the crime as he wanted her money. While Rodell is sure it is an open and shut case, Craddock has met the kid before and about the worst he can say about him is he always seemed “…a little pleased with himself.” (Page 10) For Craddock, Greg does not seem to be the type to kill and has a reasonable explanation for his side of recent events. Greg is an artist and a talented one from what Craddock can tell as he knows more than a thing or two about art.

Good thing he also knows a thing of two about police work while living in his rural area located in the middle of the triangle formed by Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. Chief Rodell is not only convinced that Greg did it, he is legendary for his drinking as well as his incompetence. Relying on Rodell to figure his way out of this case means Greg is on his way to death row. Craddock isn’t about to let that happen as he figures he owes it to Dora Lee to find out what is really going on in this complex tale of murder, greed, and art.

A Killing at Cotton Hill: A Samuel Craddock Mystery by Terry Shames is a very good book.  First in a series, the book puts this reviewer in mind of the excellent Sheriff Rhodes series by Bill Crider. Small town Texas where people have known each other all their lives and still don’t know all the secrets until a murder comes along to shake things loose in more ways than one. Along with the secrets there are the occasional flashes of humor in the tale along with the numerous details of Texas and a way of life that make the book and its characters come alive for the reader. Complex with nuance and layering, A Killing at Cotton Hill: A Samuel Craddock Mystery is very good read and is strongly recommended.

A Killing at Cotton Hill: A Samuel Craddock Mystery
Terry Shames
Seventh Street Books (imprint of Prometheus Books)
July 2013
ISBN# 978--61614-799-0
Paperback (also available as an e-book)
245 Pages

Material received from the publisher for my use in an objective review.

Terry Shames is the latest featured author over at Jenny Milchman’s “Made It Moment” series. You can and should read the interesting piece here.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2014

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