Monday, January 30, 2017

A Review of Book 1, A Killing at Cotton Hill, in Terry Shames' Samuel Craddock series

I am flush with books by new authors (for me) who also will be coming to the RBC.  First there was here there be dragons, by Jeff Rosenplot, who will be coming to Recycle on July 12.  Today's review is of A Killing at Cotton Hill.  The author, Terry Shames, will be our RBC author in March (the 22nd).  And I'm over half-way through If You Are There, by Susan Sherman.  She will be gracing Recycle's back-of-the-store stacks in April (the 19th).  It's a little risky to book an author when I haven't read the book.  But in Terry's and Susan's case, I obviously made the right call. With Jeff, I read his book before I booked him.  But it wasn't much of a decision.  I LOVE READING GOOD BOOKS, especially by local authors.  I am one lucky bibliophile.

Terry has written 6 books in the Samuel Craddock series.  The 1st 5 are sequential.  And the 6th one, which just came out (remember my post about her launch?  No?  It was only 2+ weeks ago!), is a prequel.  I didn't know whether I should read the sequel 1st or book one 1st.  Both Terry and her in-conversation author, Susan Shea (P.S. I just got a copy of one of her books, Murder in the Abstract, which I will place fairly high in the TBR pile), recommended I start with book 1.  So I did.

The chief of police of Jarrett Creek, Texas, doubles as the town drunk.  So when Dora Lee Parjeter is murdered, her old friend and former police chief Samuel Craddock steps in.  He discovers that a lot of people may have had it in for Dora Lee - the conniving rascals on the farm next door, her estranged daughter, and her live-in grandson.  And then there's that stranger Dora Lee claimed was spying on her.  As Craddock digs to find the identity of the killer, the human foibles of the small-town residents - their pettiness and generosity, their secret vices and true virtues - are also revealed.

Let me mention a few observations about the book:
1.  The writing seems like a perfect fit for the location of the book.  It's plain-speak like you would expect from a small town in Texas.  Since Texas is where Terry is originally from, she's obviously the right person to write this book.
2.  There were 2 questions I had as I was reading the story.  One was how a retired sheriff from, really, anywhere could afford a bunch of expensive art.  And the other was why nobody seemed to have cell phones.  Both questions were answered to my satisfaction  That made me feel better.
3.  Sam's wife has already passed away when the book starts.  I felt like I knew and cared about his wife, Jeanne, just like I did with Ove's wife, Sonja , in A Man Called Ove.  That's good writing.
4.  Got another good takeaway, similar to what the support group councilor said in here there be dragons.  Sam makes the statement - " thinking is that for someone to pull away so sharply, she must have reasons I don't know a thing about."  The moral?  It's just not good to judge if you haven't lived it or been there.

A Killing at Cotton Hill is a good book.  And I definitely plan on reading the next one in the series.

BACK TO RECYCLE ON SUNDAY MORNINGS:  I finally got back to my book recommendation table at Recycle yesterday.  Oh, how I have missed it. Through a combination of bad weather and other commitments, I haven't been there in 5 or 6 weeks.  That's really a long time for me. And I definitely went through withdrawal.  But all that is forgotten.  Sunday was a great combination of things:  3 books sold, 2 RBC sign-ups, several people commenting on previous recommendations I had given them (positive, fortunately), and great book discussions with old friends (Susan, Mark, Patrick, and Diana) and some newbies. There was even an unexpected visit from Josh, Haley, and Ryan.  Couldn't have been a better day.