Critically acclaimed, award-winning author Terry Shames writes the bestselling Samuel Craddock series, set in small-town Texas. Her most recent release is a prequel to the series. Learn more about Terry and her books at her website.
This is a great time of year to give a shout-out to favorites. I am going to list my favorite bookstores and books of the year, because they are what sustains readers when everything not-so-favorite is happening.
My favorite bookstores, and why I chose them:
Mrs. Dalloway’s Art and Garden Center, Berkeley. This is my “local.” If it were a pub, I’d have my own stool with my name on it and the bartender wouldn’t have to ask for my order. It has a wonderful, welcoming feel to it and the customers are book-lovers who will engage readily in conversation.
Borderlands, San Francisco. Specializing in sci-fi and mystery. You will never find a bookstore more supportive of writers.
BookPeople, Austin, TX. My home away from home. Scott Montgomery, the mystery section honcho, has probably sold more of my books than any other bookseller. He is also a writer, so he understands the struggles writers have to promote their books, so when he finds a book he likes, he makes a huge fuss over it.
Book Carnival (Orange, CA) and Clues Unlimited (Tucson, AZ)— A couple of months before a book comes out, both Anne and Chris contact me to say, “When are you coming? Let’s get it set up now!” It makes me feel special. I know I’m not the only author they do that for, but it feels that way.
Favorite books? I am an eclectic reader. I will try anything. I may not finish if I don’t like it, but I have been happily surprised by books that I thought were out of my interest range.
Mystery? Not exactly
Liane Moriarity’s books are not necessarily mysteries, but as with so much good fiction, there is a mystery at the heart of each book. Big Little Lies completely captivated me. Moriarity is a writer who isn’t satisfied with an easy ending, which I appreciate.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber. Rich and satisfying. As you peal the onion of the story, you get philosophy, humor, religion, psychology, and a dynamite plot.
Underground Airline, Ben H. Winters. This is a serious “alternate history” book. After Winter’s Last Policeman trilogy, this shows that his imagination is boundless.
Gun Street Girl, the fourth in Adrian McKinty’s “trilogy” will break your heart, make you laugh, and make you wish you could write characters as well as McKinty does.
Lamentation, Joe Clifford. I loved this book. About losers who struggle not to be losers when it seems to be their destiny.
Fields Where They Lay, Tim Hallinan. One of my favorite authors. This is in the Junior Bender series—the philosophical thief, hired to catch thieves at Christmas.
My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Stroud. Not much needs to be said since this is on just about everyone’s “best of” list. But everyone is right.
Pleasantville, Attica Locke. Winner of the Harper Lee Prize for legal fiction. It is a mystery, but so, so much more.
Mystery of sorts
Dead is Better by Jo Perry. One of the most imaginative books I’ve read in a while. Really short and really satisfying.
Descent, Tim Johnson—It’s breathtaking, well written, and compelling. About family and courage.
The Drifter, Nicholas Petrie. Great writing, compelling characters, relevant to contemporary life. Action scenes were totally believable, a rarity in thrillers.
The Chet and Bernie series by Spencer Quinn is funny without being precious. Paw and Order does not disappoint. Quinn has an uncanny ability to imagine what a dog is thinking.
Hope everyone has a terrific 2017. Visit bookstores, and read on!
An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock
A Samuel Craddock Mystery
When the Jarrett Creek Fire Department is called to douse a blaze on the outskirts of town, they discover a grisly scene: five black young people have been murdered. Newly elected Chief of Police Samuel Craddock, just back from a stint in the Air Force, finds himself an outsider in the investigation headed by the Texas Highway Patrol. He takes an immediate dislike to John Sutherland, a racist trooper
Craddock’s fears are realized when Sutherland arrests Truly Bennett, a young black man whom Craddock knows and respects. Sutherland cites dubious evidence that points to Bennett, and Craddock uncovers facts leading in another direction. When Sutherland refuses to relent, Craddock is faced with a choice that will define him as a lawman—either let the highway patrol have its way, or take on a separate investigation himself.
Although his choice to investigate puts both Craddock and his family in danger, he perseveres. In the process, he learns something about himself and the limits of law enforcement in Jarrett Creek.