Book Review | “Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek” (Book No.3 of the Samuel Craddock Mysteries) by Terry Shames Otherwise known as the series Jorie is wicked thankful to have become introduced too! (thanks Prometheus!)

Posted Saturday, 10 February, 2018 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Borrowed Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction.

I was happily surprised finding “A Reckoning in the Backcountry” arriving by Post; as this is one title I hadn’t remembered requesting. I tried to back-track if I had requested it but never could sort out if this was one title the publisher felt I might enjoy as I read quite a few of their Mystery authors or if I simply had forgotten one of my requests. Either way, I decided to sort out which installment this was in the sequence – finding the series has five titles previously released. Unfortunately, my local library didn’t have a copy of any of them thereby giving me the chance to seek them through inter-library loan. As I pulled together the synopsis of each of the novels, I uncovered a pattern of interest threading through three of them which seemed to speak to the greater whole of the series: A Killing at Cotton Hill (Book One); Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek (Book Three) and The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake (Book Five). I knew I wouldn’t have time to borrow all five and felt by moving in and out of the sequential order with these three I could have a proper overview of the series before moving into the sixth release “A Reckoning in the Backcountry”.

I borrowed the third novel in the Samuel Craddock series “Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek” in trade paperback from my local library via inter-library loan through the consortium of libraries within my state. I was not obligated to post a review as I am doing so for my own edification as a reader who loves to share her readerly life. I was not compensated for my thoughts shared herein.

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on why i am loving reading #samuelcraddock mysteries:

Straight off the bat, I smiled realising how the series was meant to unfold – the quirky titles for the series are actually a homage to the setting – Cotton Hill, Jarrett Creek and Bobtail are actual ‘places’ within the series itself. I liked how she approached crafting the series together – it reminds me of why I love Southern Lit and being this is set in Texas it does have quite the Southern appeal to how it’s being conveyed. There is the laid-back feel of how time and hours are not generally clicking off the clock at high speed but rather, there are idle hours where a person can appreciate what their doing without feeling the pressure of a deadline. It is here we alight inside the #SamuelCraddock Mysteries – partially reminding me of how I felt when I saw my first Father Brown episode – as this is a small towne where everyone knows everyone else but with an unease about how the sense of safety and security can become shattered overnight by ominous events.

Ms Shames entreats us to pull close to her lead character, Craddock as he regales us with his knowledge and his ability to see past what others are overlooking. He has a keen mind and retirement hasn’t dulled his sense of justice. In this way, he is a winsome character as he’s just a bit unexpected (like Father Brown) but with a genuinely earnest nature to do right no matter what the cost; the kind of character you can rally behind simply because he takes the duties of his job seriously even if he’s not officially in the same capacity to investigate as he had been previously.

I liked how this story evolves forward at a slower pace – similar to the Marjorie Trumaine Mysteries I love so much – whilst recognising this, I can see why the publisher was inclined to think this would be a good match for me! Both authors share a joy of giving us nuanced information about their settings of choice – of tucking into the folds of ordinary days and the slow ache of shifting through the bits and bobbles of clues which cannot be coaxed out easily from whatever is left behind. Either in tangible evidence in the person’s residence or in the living memories of those who knew her best.

I can see I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next novel in sequence – I might even fancy borrowing the three novels I hadn’t been able to this year when the seventh novel releases! It will be my own quirky tradition of celebrating the series! For now, I’m wicked thankful I’ve had the proper chance to ‘meet’ Craddock and settle into his life! You truly do disappear into Jarrett County, walking beside him and watching how he puts all the pieces together. He’s an interesting character with an artistic hobby and an unwavering admiration for the wife he lost too soon. What makes him inspiring to read is how he refuses to give up living and finds new purpose in his retirement. I truly appreciated how Ms Shames wrote this series and how she’s giving us a new dramatic series to love reading!

-quoted from my review of A Killing at Cotton Hill

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Book Review | “Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek” (Book No.3 of the Samuel Craddock Mysteries) by Terry Shames Otherwise known as the series Jorie is wicked thankful to have become introduced too! (thanks Prometheus!)Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek
Subtitle: A Samuel Craddock Mystery
by Terry Shames
Source: Borrowed from local library (ILL)

The small town of Jarrett Creek is bankrupt. Samuel Craddock thought he was retired but now he’s been asked to return as police chief. Gary Dellmore, heir apparent to the main bank, is dead, apparently murdered. Dellmore supposedly had a roving eye, although his wife says he was never serious about dallying. Still, Craddock wonders: Did the husbands and fathers of women he flirted with think he was harmless? What about his current lover, who insists that Dellmore was going to leave his wife for her?

Craddock discovers that Dellmore had a record of bad business investments. Even worse, he took a kickback from a loan he procured, which ultimately drove the town into bankruptcy. Many people had motive to want Dellmore dead.

Then the investigation turns up another crime. As Craddock digs down to the root of this mess, many in Jarrett Creek are left wondering what happened to the innocence of their close-knit community.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781616149963

Also by this author: A Killing at Cotton Hill, The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake

Also in this series: A Killing at Cotton Hill, The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake


Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 7th October, 2014

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 265

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

About Terry Shames

Terry Shames Photo Credit: Margaretta K. Mitchell

Terry Shames is the Macavity Award-winning author of the Samuel Craddock mysteries A Killing at Cotton Hill, The Last Death of Jack Harbin, Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek, and A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge. She is also the coeditor of Fire in the Hills, a book of stories, poems, and photographs about the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire. She grew up in Texas and continues to be fascinated by the convoluted loyalties and betrayals of the small town where her grandfather was the mayor. Terry is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Photo Credit: Margaretta K. Mitchell

The Samuel Craddock Mysteries:

Series Overview: The well-respected, retired police chief of a small Texas town is called upon to solve crimes that the current chief is unwilling or unable to solve.

An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock | Prequel | Synopsis

→ I hadn’t realised this series had a prequel when I first went to gather my ILLs from the library; therefore I missed getting the chance to read the prequel ahead of ‘Cotton Hill’.

A Killing at Cotton Hill | Book One (see also review)

The Last Death of Jack Harbin | Book Two | Synopsis

Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek | Book Three

A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge | Book Four | Synopsis

The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake | Book Five | Synopsis

A Reckoning in the Backcountry | Book Six | Synopsis

Converse via: #SamuelCraddock + #Mysteries

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on reading every ‘other’ novel til i reach no.6:

I was a bit worried there might be a gap of sorts between reading the first and third novel this time round – as previously mentioned, I couldn’t ILL (inter-library loan) all the novels ahead of reading the sixth. Sometimes in series like this one a lot can happen as you move sequentially through the installments, however, aside from noticing Craddock finally had his knee tended too (as it was driving him a bit batty), it feels like I took a long weekend away from Jarrett County but no longer! The irony of course is I nearly predicted the banker might have troubles down the pike as there was something a bit off about him in the first novel.

Ms Shames does a great job at introducing you to all the characters – lead and supporting cast alike whilst leaving the door open for them to be brought back into the light to where you can look back seeing how they ended up where they did. Or, at least seeing a reason for why their lives took a turn for the worst. And, of course no one would be a bit surprised it the Chief was taking a leave of absence to attempt to get his life on track (ie. to quit alcohol) but whether or not that would work out well for him is yet to be seen (this is in regards to Rodell).

my review of dead broke in jarrett creek:

True to his nature, Craddock is readily available to his neighbours and friends’ alike, so much so, he can be called out of the blue and willing to go wherever a crisis or emergency has unfolded. In this particular case, it’s the shocking news about the banker but you could tell he was more rankled by the unsettling news about Jarrett Creek’s instability after the towne meeting. He has a natural way of mentoring others which was able to be observed downtown when the Rangers showed up to help the local force solve the latest crime. You get a feel for how law enforcement is set-up to handle different crimes the more you read the series especially for those who live in smaller townes and rural communities. They oft have to rely on outside agencies or nearby cities to aide their investigations if their own force is limited in personnel or in this case, limited in expenditures.

Craddock has his hands full trying to bring a newbie up to snuff – Odum has good instincts for the job itself but he lacks the seasoning. He still says things out loud which show how green behind the ears he really is and his lack of understanding the subtleties of the job are quite the hinderance, too. In some ways, this brought back fond memories of when Jesse (of the Jesse Stone Mysteries portrayed by Tom Selleck) took on Suitcase to help round him out for the life of being a detective.

The quickfire way of knowing the towne’s gossip is asking Loretta, a fact not lost on Craddock although he’s not one for how idle gossip can steer itself into the hurtful kind. He humours Loretta by listening to the grapevine of communications swirling round but part of him feels some of what is being shared ought to be kept hidden. There is a fine line there between what is mentioned in confidence and what can be openly shared amongst neighbours or friends. Loretta never means anything by her ways but you can readily notice she still gets a bit miffed if Craddock shows her the cold shoulder especially when she already felt she was doing him a good turn at giving out information he hadn’t had previously. Theirs was a delicate walk in accepting each others quirks and realising sometimes people you care about will disappoint you.

I knew Jenny and Craddock might continue their meetings – they have a causal agreement between them, where their friendship outweighs the need of anything serious. I thought it was nice how she inspired him to grow into an appreciation for wine but it’s how they can come together at her house – sipping wine, noshing on cheese and talk about the case he’s currently working through which speaks to why they have a great working relationship. I think if things had been different they might have partnered together full-time but right now, the friendship is what each of them prefer and you can understand why.

The humour this time round is watching how Craddock goes from loathing having to get a cell phone to becoming so comfortable with it you’d think he had one all along! I had a lot of giggles over this transition because I understood his frustrated angst! Anyone whose driving through dead zones (ie. no towers for reception) whilst travelling can attest the hardest part about having newfound tech in our lives is how we’re still unable to use the technology in each particular instance it might be warranted. Thus this is what originally kept him away from having a mobile but of course, life never tracks the way you suppose it might and with his new status as ‘Chief’ part deux it made proper sense for him to buckle down and get one! You have to laugh as circumstances change for him as Craddock had to make a conscience decision to change a bit along with them – his aversion to cell phones mirrors my own but due to his recent re-position as the Chief of the county, he can’t get off without one any longer. Poor Craddock! Just when he thought he’d figured out a way to live without technology, the job pulls him right back into the fray of having it as an accessory in his life! Laughs with mirth.

He doesn’t take to the position as easily as I thought he might have – although, I suppose he was fine sleuthing as a private citizen but when everything became official again, he had mentioned how distant his neighbours could become due to the seriousness of what his position involves. On that level of insight it’s plausible why he is taking his time to get comfortable again as the Chief but part of me wonders if he’s lost a bit of his self-confidence over the years.

As Craddock starts to make his rounds to the townespeople, he soon realises this case is anything but straight and simple to be understood. The banker made a muck of his life – from having seemingly immoral behaviour at work trying to mess around with a younger employee to having a roving eye in general despite being married. One thing Ms Shames does well in this series is highlighting all the shades of a person’s life they might not want exposed to the general public. She digs into the private lives of her characters’ even if some of things Craddock has to uncover are unsavoury, Shames hones in on what causes the undoing of Craddock’s community. In this, the series takes on a realistic edge which borders on trending into Contemporary times and the issues arising in communities where law and order are not always simpatico.

As I move through the series, I notice different things about Craddock’s character – how tenacious he is to solve crimes using clues which you could almost overlook as ‘clues’ (reminding me of why I love watching Det. Goren, Columbo and Due South‘s lovable Mountie Fraser) whilst he strives to keep his personal views at bay even if there are moments where he struggles with this balance. He also has a lot of compassion for the people involved as life is never cut and dry nor are the circumstances which put people into situations which can alter the course their lives will take. He’s the kind of Chief of police you truly feel empathy for whilst watching how he handles the cases and tries to seek the truth out of complicated crimes. In this way, he does remind me a heap of Jesse Stone who always led with his heart and strove to improve the lives of his community whilst realising sometimes his community will break his heart, too.

There is a truly poignant change of opinion about the previous Chief, the one who was giving Craddock the most angst in A Killing at Cotton Hill and the one where he felt might be a fair share too incompetent to do the work well whilst avoiding his addictive habit as anything more than a secondary interest when it was really overtaking his life. Now, as the tides have turnt against Rodell, Craddock sees how broken he is after he’s had time to address his health. In this, Craddock realises no man is an island – even those who have a harder walk to live and a major crisis of health to overcome have a point where the choices they made eventually catch up to them. The interesting bit is how Craddock reacted to a favour Rodell asked of him and how this proves the truer heart of Craddock of being a man for the people without having a prejudicial heart.

I *knew!* I loved Craddock – yet the way in which he realises a misguided youthful joyride was not befitting the start of a criminal life is what gives your heart a squeeze of joy! He sees people – just as they are and the potential for what they could be – he doesn’t judge out of hand nor does he quickly assess their reasons. He let’s the people he’s speaking to find a way to feel comfortable round him, giving them the chance to lead with something they might wish to impart to the Chief of police but without having to outright put them on the spot. He’s wicked good at his job but it’s how he’s trying to effect change even in subtle ways which makes him a keen role model for his small towne.

Aww, that’s truly a sweet gesture! He’s pointing out the artwork he purchased to help jump-start Dora Lee’s grandson’s career! This is when the new art gallery and workshop owner came visiting round his house to see his private collection – Ellen, of whom hadn’t realised quite the extent of his collection! I admit, part of me wished we could have snapshots of his house where the artwork is beautifully showcased as it feels like art which likes to be seen and observed. I love when a personal passion becomes something which can be enjoyed by others – especially if they are not expecting to find such a collection at the house of a police Chief! Then again, Craddock is wicked unique in both his personality and his hobbies of interest. Strikes to reason Ellen would become fascinated with what he has to share with her whilst she’s out visiting.

Hmm. Of all the things I thought might throw Craddock for a loop it wasn’t someone being a vegetarian! Although, mind, being a veghead and having a herd of cattle are not out of the ordinary! You can have a breeding stock of cattle (think: dairy cows) or you can give sanctuary to cattle who are not headed to market; what struck me more odd (outside of his gobsmacked reaction) is how Ellen felt you couldn’t appreciate the cattle if you were a vegetarian! I mean, honestly? There are so many beautiful lovelies who roam our land and seas; a great many people eat poultry, game, fish and all sorts of protein but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the animals as they are in their natural habitats? Or, in this case, in the back pasture of a semi-retired cop! Quite unsure how someone could take that kind of a stance. Truly was trying to sort this one out,… as how the two had become exclusive of the other?

My favourite part of settling into a Samuel Craddock mystery is it’s cadence of realism – everything in the background of these novels is leading into the final conclusionary chapters. Even Ellen had her due in the end and her life wasn’t as charmed as it first appeared to be either; a credit to how sometimes people put up an illusion to the outside world so not to speak on the ills of their stresses whilst attempting to find a new beginning in their lives. As each of the supporting cast re-appear and take their respective scenes, each inch of the puzzle becomes sharpened and you start to see how they interlock and connect. Bit by bit, Ms Shames draws you further into the web of how this small towne has a bevy of secrets it likes to hold hostage – the kind of secrets which either seek to destroy a person’s soul or save face in front of their neighbours. Appearance is still important in Jarrett County and no one likes to feel they are showing their vulnerability; although, in my mind, it might go a bit further towards reaching a line of equality amongst those who were hardest hit when the economy took a nose dive.

I had a suspicion who might be behind this particular mystery but the motive was elusive – it was the one thing which hinged just out of sight for me. I positively love the fact Ms Shames kept me guessing long into the night – whilst I tried to pull the clues together a bit ahead of Craddock! The best mysteries for me are the ones where I feel the fever pitch of being on the fringes of how everything is stitched together but in that last golden moment before the ‘big reveal’ I’ve not been able to fully unravel it myself – thereby, settling in for how the writer pulls me through the thread of her vision for the conclusion.

I was not disappointed this time round either! Ooh, my goodness! The ending is quite literally the best part – as it has such a somber keeling to it – the heartache of the action against the anguish of the misery which unfortunately had become self-imposed. The motive being what it were was no excuse for what happened but in one scene at the end, you feel the person responsible had lost sight of their own worth and thereby made a critical error in judgement.

On the suspenseful styling of terry shames:

I love how Ms Shames talks about what her characters look like and how she discloses their personalities – as it plays into how a retired detective might observe the people in his community. Short and quick facts, identifiable descriptions but then she moves into the harder truths about their natures, of how they interact with others and if they disclose the secrets they hold back from sharing through their body language. It’s an interesting approach and I like watching how new characters step forward and old characters reappear in new installments of the series. You get such a strong impression of Jarrett County this way and also, why Craddock feels grounded here.

The best part I think is how you feel like you get a sociological profile of her characters – of sorting out the psychology of how they think and act whilst being privy to the threads of how everyone in the community is affected by everyone else. One action of deceit has long arms here and it’s hard not to consider that for every wrong mistake the consequences can cast long shadows well into the future of Jarrett County.

This includes how she shows the flaws in Craddock’s character as well – as despite the fact he’s an upstanding gentleman, a considerately compassionate Chief and a kindly neighbour – he has his own wrestles with conscience and judgements out of hand. Not that he intends to incur habits but for instance, in regards to his sister-in-law, his patience runs thin. It was humbling in many regards as it showed him in a different light. Similar to how honest and real she showed his struggle to find peace with his wife’s passing; he’s still in the early stages of ‘letting go’ where the anguish of his loss is not overshadowing the happier moments they shared together. The pain comes out in different ways – either from looking at what they collected together or smaller moments – of when he’s sharing time and space with Loretta or Jenny. He owns his reactions as much as his thoughts – still he has a way of endearing you to his journey because of how authentic he’s been written. In this, Ms Shames won me over as a reader because I love tucking into his footsteps, watching him sleuth and seeing how he tries to put back together the communities of Jarrett Country one by one. I’m not even sure if they knew they had fractured – within each of the installments we see the darker shades of humanity, of where the ‘left-turns’ took over their lives and how with a Chief who wants to do what’s right for his constituents it becomes a heart-warming series to be reading.

In regards to a potential audiobook edition of the series:

I am unsure if there are plans in the future to release audiobook versions of the Samuel Craddock series – however, I was speaking about this series to an audiobook appreciator who hosts a podcast (it’s linked in my blog’s sidebar on the main page as well as on my Podbean) (@AudiobookCasey) of whom said this sounded like a series he’d love to be listening too as well. I nearly felt it was already released as there is such an organic pacing to the series – I could well imagine a narrator would love embodying Craddock – of taking us through his paces and re-seeing everything through the narrator’s own interpretation of Craddock himself.

I’ve been listening to more audiobooks for a year now to curb my chronic migraines (which is having positive results!) but I have to remind myself, sometimes it takes longer for audio versions to release (if they do at all). Therefore, despite my enthused cheering for Craddock (and in effect what started my convo with Casey this week as he saw my micro-blogging tweets) I felt a bit guilty I hadn’t checked to confirm if it was released already. The remorse for me was having a bookish friend happy for the recommendation but releasing he’d have to await to see if it would go into a different edition down the road.

One thing is for certain – if and when it goes to audio, I’ll happily be re-reading the series in print whilst listening to the audio narration with headphones! One of my cosy comforts of joy as a newfound appreciator of audiobooks! Speaking of which, I realise I’m happily borrowing these series from my local library and their library network for ILLs but one day, I know for a fact the series will be in my personal library as well. Honoured friends and cherished memories are housed inside this series.

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For those who are curious if I was listening to music whilst I read this installment of the #SamuelCraddock series – yes, I was! Except to say, I had issues getting Pandora to buffer properly but I moved in/out of various Classical channels – from Classical for Studying (which I had listened to during my readathon of the #SevenSistersSeries in late January) to Classical New Age Piano and a brief stint of Classical Celtic (or some such) as that was the channel which didn’t want to buffer the most! Sad, as the melodies fit the story-line this time round so very well. I find the Classical stations speak to me as I am reading – they add to the experience of reading the stories and in many ways become the unexpected soundtrack which I reflect upon later as making the stories individually unique & memorable. I also have the delightful chance of discovering new artists & songs – it’s a true win-win for me as I am a *big!* appreciator of ‘music & soundscapes’!

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “A Killing at Cotton Hill”, “The Last Death of Jack Harbin”, “Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek”, “A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge”, “The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake” and “A Reckoning in the Backcountry” along with the series synopsis, novel synopsis, author biography and the author photograph of Terry Shames were provided by the publisher Seventh Street Press (via Prometheus Books) and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

I’m a social reader | I love sharing my reading life
This first tweet I shared is the start of a ‘micro-blog’ on Twitter where I continued to share my readerly thoughts as I was reading about Jarrett Creek! Be sure to click this tweet to see all the other tweets which are threading beneath it and watch my journey!

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 10 February, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Crime Fiction, Detective Fiction, Prometheus Books, Small Towne USA, Texas, Vulgarity in Literature




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