Guilt Strikes at Granger’s Store

Severn House. (A Samuel Craddock Mystery, Bk. 10). Oct. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9781448311279. $31.99. M
This is the 10th installment (after Murder at the Jubilee Rally) in Shames’s series of mysteries involving small-town Texas sheriff Samuel Craddock, one of the most delightful and best fleshed ’tecs to be found in today’s crime fiction. Craddock’s no Einstein. He doesn’t solve crimes à la Poirot or Miss Marple, but rather through persistence and the accruing of all the details that form the backstory to the puzzling events of the novel. He possesses one secret weapon: his decades of knowledge about his town and its sometimes quirky but ultimately endearing inhabitants. Knowing the players and the territory, he solves cases that the much-vaunted state troopers cannot. As in the other entries in Shames’s standout series, this case starts small but quickly balloons. A man is ambushed at a feed store, then there’s a fire in the building and a body is found inside. Later, another body is found, 30 years dead, buried under the feed shop’s floorboards. Before the novel ends, two more are dead, one by suicide, and Craddock has unearthed a quite unexpected murderer and motive.
VERDICT The Samuel Craddock series may be the best regional crime series around today. This installment is no exception.
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