A Reckoning in the Back Country: A Samuel Craddock Mystery. Terry Shames. Prometheus Books. January 2018. 272 pp. ISBN#: 9781633883673.
A relatively new resident, a neurologist from San Antonio, is vacationing in Jarret Creek, Texas, with his wife. They are intending to become permanent residents but suddenly he is reported missing by his wife. While she seems upset about this disappearance, Acting Police Chief Samuel Craddock senses something not quite right in her nervous appearance and shifty looks. All of this is aggravated when her husband’s dead body is found. He has been gruesomely mutilated by what looks like an animal attack.
The plot centers around dog fighting, a “sport” this reviewer is not familiar with. Readers will learn more than they want to about how these fights are organized, the training involved, the role of other dogs as what one can only call “bait.” One also finds out that the murdered victim was running away from the shame of a malpractice case and has an addiction of gambling that’s far beyond wagers other gamblers are willing to accept.
The investigation itself involves Craddock interviewing people who knew the doctor and people who know about the rumors of dog fights. While there’s a bit much of repetitive questions, Craddock keeps the investigation moving with some characters being threatened and others being attacked as the conclusion draws near.
Craddock finds that the victim owned a boat; but when he hires someone to look for the missing boat, nothing is found. Why did the marina owner fail to conduct the search Craddock asked for?
Add to the mix a very slowly moving romance that is a nice counter-balance to the intensity of the crime and its perpetrators. The Craddock mysteries have just enough tension to keep the reader interested, without being overbearing. Nicely done, again, Terry Shames!