Politics rears its ugly head when a sheriff investigates multiple murders.
Hank Worth, appointed sheriff of Branson County, faces an election fight against an ill-prepared but politically connected deputy. Hank’s wife, Dr. Maggie McClary, has hired professional consultant Darcy Blakely to run his campaign, but Darcy and Maggie find it hard to force Hank into campaign mode when he’s only interested in crime-solving. An epidemic of debarked trees seems hardly worth his effort until he learns that the slippery elm bark is quite valuable to Vern Miles, whose family has owned their land for many generations—though not as many as the former owners, the Kinneys, whose ongoing feud with the Miles family continues apace. Then an illegal crew hired by the Mileses accidentally discovers some dead bodies. One of them, the skeleton of a young child, invites Hank to take a long look at cold cases. Despite having his trees debarked, Jasper Kinney had refused entry to his land, but now that corpses have been found there, he’s forced to let the law take a look. Another problem for Hank is illegal doings by the Taylor brothers. When he finally gets a chance to check out their trailer, the discovery of more than $1 million hidden underneath proves that the brothers have been into something a lot bigger than pig stealing. Hank knows he can count on his clever deputy Sheila—the only woman, and certainly the only African-American woman, on his force—and young Sam, who proves a quick study. The rest of his team are either on the fence or secretly in the camp of the deputy running against him, who’s supported by a wealthy backer who’ll stop at nothing to make Hank look bad.
The second in Booth’s regional crime series (The Branson Beauty, 2016) is both an excellent police procedural and a surprisingly humorous look at politics and family feuds.