by Cynthia Chow
Details on how to win a copy of A Killing at Cotton Hill at the end of this review.
After the death of his beloved wife, Samuel Craddock may have expected his retirement as police chief of Jarrett Creek, Texas would be days spent enjoying his art collection, sitting on his porch, and avoiding the predatory widows delivering casseroles to his door. When one of the widows, Loretta Singletary, brings news that Dora Lee Parjeter has been murdered in her own home and Sheriff Rodell has zeroed in on her grandson Greg Marcus as the killer, Craddock can’t sit idly by. Drunk more often than sober, Rodell is known for taking the easy way out. Craddock doesn’t believe the shy and artistic boy would have stabbed his grandmother over his desire to get a job. Craddock soon learns more about a battle for Dora Lee’s land, a narcissistic art teacher who envies Greg’s promising artistic skills, and Dora Lee’s estranged daughter whose seductive ways have manipulated more than one man.
Craddock represents the ideal Texas lawman but he also shows his devotion to the memory of his wife who introduced him to art and the appreciation of his collection. Childless, he misses his nephew and wishes he and his family lived closer. Craddock’s strong stubborn streak shows when his neighbor Jenny Sandstone allows her horses to cross his land for water. While the fence he built has kept them not-quite-friendly neighbors, it’s Jenny he enlists as attorney to represent Greg. Jenny becomes an unlikely ally and enables him to fend off the waiting-in-the-wings Loretta.
Shames sets the perfect tone for this enjoyable, witty and complex mystery that shines with fully developed characters. Samuel Craddock is a likable hero. His voice of reason and chivalrous need to protect women make him sympathetic as even he is faced with temptation by a woman with questionable motives. Craddock’s intelligence never leaves a doubt that he will prevail. This debut mystery is hopefully only the beginning of a promising series. Fans of Craig Johnson, Bill Crider, William Kent Krueger, and C.J. Box will find much to appreciate in this very well written mystery.
To enter to win a copy of A Killing at Cotton Hill, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Cotton,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 10, 2013. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories, including more fashion related mystery reviews & giveaways in this very issue, in our mystery section.