If I'm correct, A Killing at Cotton Hill is Terry Shames' debut novel, although she has written before.There's nothing I enjoy more than settling in with the first book in a new series. It's good to know the publication date has been moved up to January for the second in the series,The Last Death of Jack Harbin. I hated to close the book on Samuel Craddock.. Shames and her protagonist, Samuel Craddock, both have a gift for storytelling.
Craddock may appear to be a crusty retired police chief, but even in his sixties, with a gimpy leg, he's still the best lawman Jarrett Creek ever had. And, when he learns a lifelong friend, Dora Lee Parjeter, was murdered, he takes it personally. He had brushed her off when she called the night before, complaining someone was spying on her. Dora Lee had been nervous out on her farm ever since her abusive husband died. Knowing the current police chief will never be sober enough to truly investigate the case, Craddock sticks his nose in his town's business. Rodell Skinner may think he's arrested the killer, but a conversation or two convinces Craddock that Rodell has the wrong person in custody, and the killer of his old friend is still out there. Samuel Craddock feels terrible that he hadn't responded when Dora Lee needed help. Now, he's bound and determined to find her killer. "Jarrett County is my territory, and I don't like somebody thinking they can get away with killing a good woman I've known my whole life."
Shames' novel is an excellent traditional mystery, set in a small community with interesting characters. However, it's Samuel Craddock who brings the story to life. He's the narrator, a shrewd Texan, a widower and former lawman who loves his hometown. As he tells the story of his investigation, he emerges from the page, a strong man, a widower who is a little lonely after his wife's death. This investigation brings a new spring to his step. He's not really ready to settle in with just a cat for company. Instead, he builds on his years of experience and his knowledge of people. Even after all his years serving the community, he can still be surprised by long-buried secrets. And, it takes all of his cunning to dig through secrets and lies to trap a dangerous killer who still has evil plans.
It's time to welcome a former Texas lawman to the ranks of investigators. Samuel Craddock comes to life in Terry Shames' A Killing at Cotton Hill.
Terry Shames' website is www.terryshames.com.
A Killing at Cotton Hill by Terry Shames. Seventh Street Books. 2013. ISBN 9781616147990 (paperback), 233p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.