Angel Bright, Slate McCluskey’s wife, answers the door when I stop by at 7.30. When Slate married Angel she was a country-and-western singer of some success. She kept her stage name when she married. I suspect it’s a made-up name, but you never know.
“Hey, Samuel, what a nice surprise.” She hasn’t lost the flat, nasal accent of a west Texas gal, And she hasn’t changed her looks from when she was on stage. She’s wearing tight jeans and a rose-colored Western shirt with pearl snaps. Her long mane of fluffy hair brushes the tops of her breasts. “Come on in. It’s time for a cocktail, and you look like you could use one.”
observations: I love this series: retired police chief Samuel Craddock investigating crimes in his small Texas town – I covered the first in the series, A Killing at Cotton Hill, on the blog last year, and said how astonished I was at the end to find that Terry Shames is a woman. I had found Samuel’s voice to be completely authentic, and wouldn’t have doubted for a moment that a man had written the book.
This one has another complex plot – Craddock’s hometown of Jarrett Creek has, as in the title, gone broke following a disastrous attempt to revive its fortunes with a water park. After a difficult town meeting, the son of the local banking family is found dead. There is no money to pay the current police force, so Craddock ventures out of retirement again to find out what happened. Gary, the dead man, was playing fast and loose with: 1) several local women 2) confidential details of his bank’s customers and 3) the matter of loans and financing for the water park. So there are plenty of possible motives and culprits.
As ever there is a lot of plot – there is also the singer above, and her husband’s themed hunting park (a venture quite difficult for UK readers to fathom), and a lot to uncover.
Reading this I realized that I can still be shocked by characters’ love affairs and life peccadilloes, but nothing in the way of business, corruption, crooked deals, conflicting interests or fraud ever surprises me, or is even unexepected. Perhaps I think the best of people in love and the worst in financial matters.
Anyway, another nice book from Shames, and the prospect of a good long series with lots of regular characters. There’s a great moment in this one where the new woman in town – an otherwise attractive and pleasant person – reveals her appalling secret: she is vegetarian. Samuel really doesn’t know what to make of that at all…
The picture seemed just the job: it’s an advert for a Wrangler shirt.