Monday, 29 July 2013

A Killing at Cotton Hill by Terry Shames

published 2013 chapter 25







Finally I find Houston Antiques ‘N Art, located in a mall that stretches about as big as Dora Lee’s farm. The place… looks like a warehouse, crammed up tight with fine pieces of furniture butted up next to some of the ugliest junk I’ve ever laid eyes on…

[Dallas Morton] is a rangy man who wears clothes that make him look like he’s ready to grab his partner at a square dance. His pale blue shirt hs ruffles down the front and he’s wearing tight black plants and cowboy boots with high heels. It’s all finished off with a bolo tie with a piece of turquoise the size of my fist. He wears a silver and turquoise bracelet and rings to match.



observations: Two weeks ago, looking at the JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith book The Cuckoo’s Calling, I said I wouldn’t have guessed who wrote it, but I might have thought it was a woman’s book. A Killing at Cotton Hill is less famous, in fact virtually unknown, but it gave me a huge surprise: I assumed that Terry was a man right up until her biographical details popped up at the very end of the book – I wouldn’t have suspected for a moment that the writer was female. The narrator, retired law officer Samuel Craddock, is a totally convincing voice.

The book was recommended/passed on to me by the proprietor of the Col’s Criminal Library blog, and his review here is an excellent summing-up of the book – and one I totally agree with. I loved this book: the Texan geography, the small-town atmosphere, the logical steps in solving the crime, the descriptions of the people and places that the investigator came across along the way – all were perfectly done. I’m delighted that it’s the first of a series, though sorry we’ll have to wait for future entries.

The book is available in the UK via amazon and on Kindle. And there is a really nice Pinterest board showing items of interest from the story, including works of modern art, and answering my question as to what bluebonnets, mentioned several times, are: a kind of lupin, the Texan state flower. And if you think having a state flower is strange and American, then there’s news for you: the bolo is the official neckwear of the state of Texas. Yes really – it sounded like an internet myth, but Clothes in Books is not frightened of doing deep, original fashion research, and we found the details on the Texas State website.

The Wikipedia definition is: 
A bolo tie (sometimes bola tie or shoestring necktie) is a type of necktie consisting of a piece of cord or braided leather with decorative metal tips – aglets (aiguillettes) – secured with an ornamental clasp or slide.
It would be a bootlace tie in the UK.

With big thanks to Col for the book.

The picture was taken by Markus Barlocher and is available on Wikimedia Commons.

10 comments:

  1. Moira - Oh, yes, I remember Col's review of this one. I'm very glad you liked it too. And I do love your discussion of whether the author is male or female. I always find those differences in writing really interesting and perhaps it's even more so when you can't tell the difference.

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    1. I liked the book very much Margot - if there'd been more by this author I'd have bought them straight away. And there are various interesting byways, like the clothes and a lot about modern art.

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  2. Moira, so glad you enjoyed this - I sometimes worry whether I'm out of step with the rest of the world, but obviously not on this occasion!
    Glad you found some reference points for your clothing angle too,
    Thanks for the kind, mention also.

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    1. Thank YOU again for introducing me to it. It is definitely the book where our tastes overlap, but I also thought it just was one of the best books I'd read in ages, in its unassuming way. I thought there was a niceness of spirit about it...

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  3. Turquoise - now there's a colour! the tie looks very Western to me - aren't ties of any sort a strange article of clothing? Do you think they'll disappear some day altogether?

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    1. Carole, I was thinking exactly that when I was looking for pictures - the more you think about ties (of all kinds) the stranger the whole deal is. I keep thinking they'll disappear, but then some people see them as such a symbol of respectability and being well-dressed, so maybe not.

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  4. The G8 lot made a big deal of not wearing ties didn't they? My theory is they'd got the heads-up that Putin wasn't going to wear one - as a symbol of defiance - and the rest of them went tieless to take the sting out of his gesture.

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  5. Excellent point Audrey, and a nice touch of political discussion in our wide-ranging forum here....

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  6. I was already interested in this book based on Col's review, but you have won me over further. I will add it to my list of books to look for.

    I don't really like much about the state of Texas though. I hate to be prejudiced in that way ... and I do need to read more about the state... through fiction. I did live in Dallas/ Ft. Worth for a short while and that area has nice rolling hills.

    My father (not from Texas, but from Alabama) wore a bolo tie a lot, because he went square-dancing.

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    1. I really recommend it, I enjoyed it a lot, and am very much looking forward to a long series. You see bolo ties in the UK sometimes, but usually in an American context... we generally think of them as American.

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