The chief of police of Jarrett Creek, Texas, doubles as the town drunk. So when Dora Lee Parjeter is murdered, her old friend and former police chief Samuel Craddock steps in. He discovers that a lot of people may have had it in for Dora Lee the conniving rascals on the farm next door, her estranged daughter, and her live-in grandson. And then there's that stranger Dora Lee claimed was spying on her. As Craddock digs to find the identity of the killer, the human foibles of the small-town residents their pettiness and generosity, their secret vices and true virtues are also revealed.
Nominated for Best First Novel in the 2013 Strand Magazine Critics Awards
“A Killing at Cotton Hill enchants with memorable characters and a Texas backdrop as authentic as bluebonnets and scrub cedars. A splendid debut by a gifted writer who knows the human heart. Definitely a candidate for both the Edgar and Agatha awards for Best First Novel."
—Carolyn Hart, author of Escape from Paris
"Terry Shames does small-town Texas crime right, and A Killing at Cotton Hill is the real thing. It has humor, insight, and fine characters. Former chief of police Samuel Craddock is a man readers are going to love, and they'll want to visit him and Jarrett Creek, Texas, often."
—Bill Crider, author of Compound Murder, A Dan Rhodes Mystery
"With her first crime novel, Shames has come up with a sleuth for the long haul.... [Craddock] wins our respect as a guy who stitches together the answers to forensic puzzles with logic and confidence. From page one of the novel, he also claims our affection as a decent kind of guy, the sort we can confidently expect not to disappoint us in future Craddock adventures from Terry Shames’s lively imagination."
"Shames' novel is an amazing read. The poetic, literary quality of the writing draws you into a small town and its interesting, secret-carrying residents."
—RT Book Reviews
“Shames delivers a mystery in the traditional mode, but Craddock is a strong enough character to keep readers coming back for more.”
—San Jose Mercury News
"Not just another retired lawman, Samuel Craddock is wizened but not hardened, rusty but still plenty sharp. . . . Samuel anchors a compelling cast of characters that imbues A Killing at Cotton Hill with style, heart, and a generous helping of rural sensibility."
—Sophie Littlefield, bestselling, award-winning author of Garden of Stones
"Samuel Craddock is a man you want to have covering your back, and Terry Shames's small Texas town is so real you can taste the dirt. I heard Texas in every line of dialogue and could see the houses and the people as clearly as if I were sitting on a front porch in Jarrett Creek. Beautifully written."
—Susan C. Shea, author of Murder in the Abstract, a Dani O'Rourke mystery
“The small-town southern mystery is becoming a genre all its own, with Shames capably joining Bill Crider and Steven Havill in chronicling the mayhem and hidden agendas in the region. A solid debut thriller.”
“[A] promising debut. . . . Readers will want to see more of the likable main character, who compassionately but relentlessly sifts the evidence. Convincing small-town atmosphere and a vivid supporting cast.”