As a reviewer I try very hard to not be a critic, however the more I get involved, the more that I do view books with a slightly critical eye. A good question is what makes a book outstanding? There are numerous criteria that can be used. It is hardly a formula, and what appeals to one person may not to another. My view of outstanding puts many (personal) factors into play. Murders At Crooked Creek does meet all of my requirements!

I like murder mysteries, and I like those that have been well planned out. William Burke has done a great job. One of the factors that make a great book are the little ‘throw away’ pieces of minutia that don’t necessarily have relevance to the plot, but add color and depth to the overall story. Francis Burke peppers his writing with these gems. For example we have Bob Fixet who runs a small appliance repair business with the motto of ‘If Fixet can’t fix-it, it can’t be fixed’.

Murders At Crooked Creek takes us to a small town in Washington County, Pennsylvania. It is 1959, and winter is just arriving. Henry Chatsworth is the county sheriff, and has been for some 13 years. Not much happens in Washington County, so when farmer Sam Miller reports hearing a young lady scream and then the sound of gun shots, Sheriff Chatsworth decides to investigate. What he finds is shocking, the dead body of an unknown teenage girl is found. Shot twice in the back.

While trying to identify the young lady Sheriff Chatsworth makes more grizzly discoveries, there have been several bodies found in neighboring counties, young women, all shot in the back by what appears to be a small caliber weapon.

Sheriff Chatsworth can hardly bring himself to utter the words, but the term ‘Serial Killer’ is on the tip of his tongue.

The discovery of a second body also very close to Sam Miller’s farm makes the Sheriff even more nervous. This time the victim is not a young female, but one of the town drunks who has been poisoned.

The more the Sheriff and his team investigate, the more disturbed he becomes. The events are starting to hit close to home. Could this maniac on the loose be someone that he knows? Even more disturbing is he or one of his family somewhere on this killers hit list? One thing is clear, time is of the essence, the clock is ticking and the body count is growing.

All of this happens in the first 50 pages! Then the action really starts!

To share more of the plot of this wonderful murder/mystery would be a disservice to the reader. But let me assure you that William Burke has done an outstanding job with Murders At Crooked Creek. Like every great storyteller William Burke throws some curve balls at the reader. There are Red Herrings, and false trails galore for Sheriff Chatsworth to unravel.

Murders At Crooked Creek is well constructed, the author paints his characters deftly, and moves the plot along at something akin to the speed of light. At over 330 pages in length I had expected to find ‘filler’, that 50 or 100 pages of ‘down time’ that authors love to include to lengthen books, there is none of it in this one. William Burke engages the reader on page one, and keeps you hooked till the final word of the final sentence.

You can order your copy of Murders At Crooked Creek from Amazon by clicking on the link above.

Simon Barrett

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