A fire on the wrong side of the tracks starts an investigation that digs as deeply into the crime as it does into the people surrounding it.
Though he’s not a trained farmer, Samuel Craddock (The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake, 2016, etc.) is excited at the prospect of raising cows on the small plot of land he shares with his wife, Jeanne. On the day the livestock are to be delivered, Samuel, in his capacity as chief of police in Jarrett Creek, is called to Darktown to investigate a fire. Darktown is the unofficial area of town where the black folks live; though it’s the modern era, Texas has yet to catch up. The fire is the least of Samuel’s problems. He’s beaten to the scene by highway patrolman John Sutherland, who takes an instant dislike to him and all the questions he’s asking. Sutherland doesn’t think investigating crime in the black community requires formal police attention, even when it’s obvious the fire is arson and investigators find several bodies at the scene. Samuel’s attempt to put pressure on Sutherland’s investigation backfires when Sutherland hastily arrests Truly Bennett, a young black man Samuel is certain isn’t connected to the crime. His own investigations persuade Samuel that everyone from the small town he thought he knew so well has something to hide—even the people he thought he knew best.
A favorite of fans who like their police procedurals with a strong ethical center, Shames provides the back story of a Southern cop caught between his job and his culture.