A small-town Texas sheriff faces a most peculiar murder case.
Retired police officer Samuel Craddock serves as Jarrett Creek’s sheriff because the town’s broke and can’t afford to pay anyone else. Lately Jarrett Creek’s been buzzing with the news that Nonie Blake, who’s done 20 years in a mental institution since trying to hang her younger sister, is coming home. A few days after she arrives, Craddock gets a call from Charlotte Blake telling him that Nonie has drowned in a pond on the family ranch. The fact that Nonie’s head has been bashed in by an unknown object tells Craddock that he’s got a murder on his hands. The Blake family may have lived in the area for years, but they keep to themselves and apparently have enough money to prevent any of them from having to work. Nonie’s mother, Adelaide, has her hands full caring for her husband, John, who has Parkinson’s disease; their youngest son, Skeeter, who found the body, helps out with his father’s care. The couple’s other son, rodeo rider Billy, who saved Charlotte from being hanged, quickly returns home to support his family. Certain that the motive lies in the past, Craddock quickly learns that Nonie was a manipulative liar, a snoop, and maybe a blackmailer. The steady stream of misinformation he’s fed tells Craddock that Nonie’s not the only liar in the family. The most outrageous falsehood conceals the fact that Nonie was actually released from the institution 10 years ago. Craddock must dig deep into the past of the entire family before he discovers the shocking truth.
Shames does it again, providing the wise, likable Craddock (A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge, 2015, etc.) with yet another quirky mystery with a surprising ending.