Author: Terry Shames
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Some mysteries hinge on the author's talent for word-smithing. Others rely on a writer's ability to craft a masterful plot. Macavity Award winner Terry Shames employs both skills in The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake.
Shames' fifth entry in the Samuel Craddock Mystery Series is deceptive. The plot heats up steadily, like Texas on an August day. And just when you think you've reeled in a whopper of a clue, Shames swaps it with a Red Herring and makes you cast a new line.
Police Chief Craddock, a widower with a comfortable inheritance, has returned to the job as a favor to his bankrupt small town. There are inevitable hints at romance for the eligible rancher-slash-lawman, but The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake is an all-business whodunit.
Simultaneously folksy and smart, this is an intriguing tale about a long-gone daughter (the title character) whom no one seems particularly happy to welcome home. People in Jarrett Creek, Texas are wary of the young woman - and for good reason. Nonie spent the last 20 years in a mental institution for the attempted murder of her younger sister. But, if Nonie is a threat, it's a short-lived one. She's found dead in the Blake family pond a week after her return.
As if solving a murder isn't enough to worry about, Craddock has been assigned a new female deputy he's not completely certain how to utilize. Fortunately, however, Maria Trevino doesn't need micromanaging and quickly proves her worth.
Shames draws a clear picture of a family with something to hide, and the toll secrets take on both the guilty and the innocent. When Craddock does solve the crime, it's a good bet the reader will be as surprised as the townspeople of Jarrett Creek.
Prose 'n Cons recommends The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake to readers who prefer clean, character-driven mystery fiction absent graphic violence and profanity.
Should you choose to read the entire series, Shames' previous four entries are: A Killing at Cotton Hill; The Last Death of Jack Harbin; Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek; and A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge.