Post Oak, Texas, pop. 4,387, give or take a few corpses, is the sort of town where the nattering locals know lots of little secrets, but not all of them. They know, for instance, that Ron Hughes is having an affair with Wagon Wheel waitress Muriel; that Muriel’s husband regularly beats her up; that the Rices, the town’s most affluent couple, are also its stingiest; and that Judge Jackson Crain, a widower with a 13-year-old daughter, has lately been keeping company with newcomer Mandy de Alejandro, a historical preservationist temporarily assigned to Post Oak. But some secrets remain, such as who coshed and strangled poor Dora Hughes, the judge’s sister-in-law; who killed in similar fashion a teenaged transient with a noose tattooed around her neck; which local preacher is fed up with fundraising and thinking of resigning; and whatever happened to the Rices’ son, who up and left town years ago. While the womenfolk gossip over at the Knit Shop and the men speculate over coffee at the Wagon Wheel, a scruffy, bearded stalker is peering in windows and worse, until the poor soul descends into paranoid schizophrenia, and the judge and sheriff arrive just in time to save another victim.
Bell, whose other rural Texas series (Biggie and the Devil Diet, 2002, etc.) also makes hay of down-home stereotypes, is big on clichés but short on drama, cunning, and motivation. Skippable, to put it more mildly than the Wagon Wheel crowd ever would.