Football is king in Texas. Especially high school football where the highlight of many a life might be beneath the lights on a Friday evening. Back in the day just before the first Gulf War, Jack Hardin was quarterback of the Jarrett Creek High School Panthers and he was the man. He might have had a spectacular college career. Instead, both Jack and Woody Patterson signed up to enlist in the Army not knowing a war was coming.
What had been a relatively simple love triangle between Jack, Woody and a certain hometown beauty changed when the Army rejected Woody and Jack left alone off to war. While Woody and the lady in question got married, Jack eventually came back badly damaged physically and emotionally. Blind, crippled and confined to a wheelchair, abandoned by his mom and many others, Jack primarily relies on his father Bob Harbin to take care of him. The same Bob Harbin who just died of an apparent heart attack on the street in front of his house in the opening pages of The Last Death Of Jack Harbin: A Samuel Craddock Mystery arbin who has just died on the street in front of his house in the opening pages of “Thwe Last Death of JAck Harbin” by Terry Shames.
As he was in A Killing At Cotton Hill Samuel Craddock, retired police chief, is the only real person around with actual law enforcement experience and training. Not that he has any mind to get involved as this second book in the series set in small town south Texas begins. Events of the last book are still present in minds of many folks as well as in his own. Then there is the whole issue of his knee, which is going to have to be operated on, as well as a couple of other things.
But, the chief of police is a drunk, his number two man isn’t much better, and those in charge want him involved. An involvement which becomes more and more important as other events begin to happen and old secrets begin to see the light of day. The past may have been buried, but it coming back to life and taking a heavy toll on the town folk of Jarrett Creek, Texas in so many ways.
Reminiscent of Bill Crider’s excellent Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, albeit with far less humor, Samuel Craddock is a man you would be honored to have as a friend. Straight forward and plainspoken, he quietly goes about his business asking questions and doing a lot of listening to what is said and not said. While there are the action moments including a shootout in town, most of the book is Craddock keeping business low key in both his daily life as well as in his investigations. These books are a series with characters that quickly grow on you and stories that are well worth your time.
The Last Death Of Jack Harbin: A Samuel Craddock Mystery
Seventh Street Books (imprint of Prometheus Books)
Paperback (also available as an e-book)
Kevin R. Tipple ©2014
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