“A Killing At Cotton Hill” by Terry Shames / Reviewed by Clay Stafford

A retired chief of police is pulled into the investigation of an old friend in a Texas small town in A Killing at Cotton Hill, a debut novel you won’t want to miss.

A Killing At Cotton Hill by Terry Shames

This review for A Killing at Cotton Hill by Terry Shames has a special meaning to me: the manuscript was a finalist for 2010’s Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award (www.claymoreaward.com).  In Terry’s words:  “I got a two-book contract for my Texas mystery series. BOTH of them were finalists for the Claymore Award. The first, The Art of Murder (now A Killing At Cotton Hill), was a finalist two years ago. Shortly after the announcement I got an agent I really wanted.”  Killer Nashville (www.killernashville.com) does get results and here is the proof.

Samuel Craddock is the former chief of police in the small town of Jarrett Creek, Texas where the current chief of police doubles as the town drunk.  When a murder is committed, it is not the real chief of police who is contacted to solve the crime, but Craddock.  This launches a whole new mystery series involving this tough and irascible, but all heart ex-cop.

This is a mystery in the traditional sense.  It is a small town, yet there are numerous unforgettable characters who would have every reason to kill the woman in question, an old friend of Craddock’s.  In solving the crime, Craddock exposes the very real characters of Jarrett Creek, which serves as a great literary device for revealing the setting.  Interestingly enough, this is a personal novel for Shames; the character of Samuel Craddock is based loosely upon her maternal grandfather who served the town he lived in off-the-books long after his term of mayor had ended.

Out of hundreds of manuscripts at the 2010 Claymore Awards, this manuscript rose to the top.  And out of all the books on your shelves, this will be one of your favorites.

I am so proud of Terry Shames and what is yet to come.  This is a great time to discover a new author.  One of the backstories I love about this manuscript is that Terry wrote it while floating around on her catamaran.  Now that’s the life.  Forget Key West and the five-toed cats.

I look forward to many other books from Terry Shames and Seventh Street Books.  Terry is a success story, but more than that, she’s a great storyteller and a wonderful lady.  Her next book, The Last Death of Jack Harbin, is scheduled to be released January 2014.  I can hardly wait.

Until next time, read like someone is burning the books!

Clay Stafford
- Clay Stafford is a husband, father, author / filmmaker (www.ClayStafford.com), business owner (www.AmericanBlackguard.com), and founder of Killer Nashville (www.KillerNashville.com) with over 1.5 million copies of his own books in print in over 14 languages.  Stafford’s latest projects are the feature documentary “One of the Miracles” (www.OneOfTheMiracles.com) and the music CD “XO” (www.JefferyDeaverXOMusic.com). Publishers Weekly has named Stafford one of the top 10 Nashville literary leaders playing “an essential role in defining which books become bestsellers” not only in middle-Tennessee, but also extending “beyond the city limits and into the nation’s book culture.”  (PW 6/10/13)


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