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Posts Tagged ‘returning police chief’

DEAD BROKE IN JARRETT CREEK by Terry Shames: Book Review

Things are not going well in Jarrett Creek, Texas.  The small town was hard hit by the 2008 economic recession and hasn’t recovered.  Things are so bad, in fact, that the town’s two full-time police officers have been let go due to budgetary concerns, and that brings Samuel Craddock back to resume his former position as chief of police. 

The reason that newly elected mayor Rusty Reinhardt asks Samuel to take the job is that Samuel has volunteered to work for a token dollar a year until the town’s finances improve and a new chief can be hired or until the current chief returns from his stint in rehab.  

So Samuel is approved as temporary chief, and the next morning he’s confronted by a murder.  One of the men at the meeting to discuss the town’s finances and approve Samuel’s “rehiring” has been shot to death.

Gary Dellmore was alive when the meeting at the American Legion Hall broke up the previous night, but no one can remember seeing him leave the building.  Gary had joined his father’s bank several years earlier and was apparently being groomed to be vice president, but the more deeply Samuel delves into the victim’s past and current behavior, the more people he finds who have reason to want Gary dead.

The murder victim was known around town as a man who liked women, and his marriage appears to have been a troubled one.  In addition, townspeople have been leaving the Dellmore family bank because Gary was unprofessionally free with private information about their bank accounts.  And he seemed to be doing more than simply flirting with one of the teenagers who worked with him, the mayor’s daughter.

Some of the characters in Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek are familiar to readers of the two previous books in the series.  There’s Loretta, Samuel’s good-hearted but gossipy neighbor; Jenny, an attorney who is Samuel’s confidante; and police chief Rodell Skinner, who has a major problem with alcohol.

And there are new characters as well:  Barbara Dellmore, the not-very-grieving widow; Alan Dellmore, the bank’s president and father of the victim, who admits to Samuel that there had been tension between himself and his son; and Cookie Travers, Alan’s assistant, who is willing to tell Samuel all about Gary’s indiscretions at the bank, personal and business.

Samuel Craddock reminds me of Walter Longmire, the fictional sheriff I greatly admire.  Maybe I’m partial to lawmen in the West, but there seems to be something very down-to-earth and homey about them.  Samuel is a man definitely past middle age, although we’re not told how old he is.  He’s a widower with no children, has lived all his life in Jarrett Creek, and its citizens and the town itself are very important to him.

All the usual virtues and vices are present in this small town:  kindness, charity, greed, and gossip.  Jarrett Creek sounds pretty much like Everytown to me.

Terry Shames has a flair for making her Texas townspeople real and vibrant.  Each book in the series has been an enjoyable read, and I’m looking forward to the next one. 

You can read more about Terry Shames at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.