Monday, 8 December 2014

Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek by Terry Shames

published 2014




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.

14 comments:

  1. Moira - I love those series with a strong sense of 'local colour' and setting. I feel the same way about Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series, actually. And the mystery sounds well-crafted too. Oh, and I agree; that's a great 'photo for this post.

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    1. I know everyone has their list of books to read, and their series they alaready follow, but I have no hesitation on recommending this one to you, Margot, I honestly think you'll like it a lot.

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  2. I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first, but the third is one I'm still looking forward to.

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    1. I might be reading them out of order in fact, is it possible this IS the 3rd? There's another one coming out next year apparently - she's very productive and has lots of ideas!

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    2. Oops- my mistake this is number 3 - its on the pile!

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  3. Moira: There is a country lady in that shirt ready to go to town for the Saturday night dance rather than riding with her beau. Still that belt looks like it might have been won barrel racing.

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    1. Yes, she's going for looks rather than practicality perhaps. But now I want to know about barrel racing - I love that sentence so much! What on earth is it?

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    2. Moira: At rodeos, which I have rarely attended, the cowboys ride the bucking broncos and the bulls and rope the calves. The cowgirls have their own competition. Individually they race their horse around barrels in the arena. They are timed and the fastest are the winners. Included in the prizes for cowboys at big rodeos are massive belt buckles. I am not sure whether the cowgirls get their won special buckles.

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    3. That is so interesting, thank you!

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  4. Moira, I developed a liking for small town stories, crime or otherwise, when I started reading westerns where the setting is, of course, different from, say, the one in this Terry Shames novel. Small town means fewer characters and a less convoluted plot, or at least that's my impression.

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    1. Well I suppose Texas is a good Western setting! This is a really excellent series Prashant and I think you would like it, with the hint of the Western adding joy for you!

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  5. Still have not gotten to the first one yet. I am sure I will enjoy, but had not realized that the author writes in present tense. Not my favorite.

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    1. Yes I know, I would prefer not too. But I give Terry Shames a pass because I like the setting and detective so much....

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