A retired sheriff takes on a tricky case of murder.
Jarrett Creek is one of those East Texas towns where most people know your business and football is king. The locals are in a bad mood when their team loses the first game of the season after the popular coach inexplicably benches the star quarterback. Former star quarterback Jack Harbin is a regular at the games even though he’s blind and lost a leg in the Gulf War. He and his best buddy, Woody Patterson, had enlisted together, but when Woody was turned down, he married the lovely and popular Taylor, who’d never been able to make up her mind between them. Although Taylor’s now remarried to a lawyer, Jack still isn’t talking to Woody. Abandoned by a mother who left town when she couldn’t take the strain, Jack’s been cared for by his father, Bob. When Bob suddenly dies of an apparent heart attack, various townspeople join Jack’s veteran buddies to help out until Jack is viciously stabbed to death. Since the sheriff is a drunk who’s currently drying out, the town council asks former sheriff Samuel Craddock to find the killer. Atop his list of suspects is Jack’s brother Curtis, who lives with his wife, Taylor’s sister, and their children in a compound near Waco peopled by paranoid crazies. Curtis, who never liked his brother, stands to inherit a large sum. But Sam, whose skills are sharp as ever, starts to uncover some strange things in Jack’s past and finds $10,000 missing from Jack’s bank account.
Shames’ second (A Killing at Cotton Hill, 2013) is a nifty whodunit whose broad range of characters successfully captures the flavor of small-town Texas.