by Terry Shames
Published by Seventh Street Books
Jacket design by Nicole Sommer-Lecht, Prometheus
Jacket Imagery: Alamy Stock Photo
“A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary” is a well thought-out and executed mystery involving small town police procedure. The characters are well drawn with well defined personalities.
A natural pearl begins its life inside an oyster’s shell when an intruder, such as a grain of sand, slips in between the shell of the oyster and its flesh and begins to irritate. The Oyster, in order to protect itself from the irritation, will quickly begin covering the uninvited visitor with layer upon layer of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, thus coating the grain of sand until the iridescent gem is formed.
Shames provides the proverbial grain of sand causing persistent irritation enough to create a fine pearl of a tale. The irritation begins when Police Chief Samuel Craddock gets a call to break up a fight between the Caisson brothers cutting short his peaceful day out. The obtuse siblings wave oversize guns at each other in a heated argument until one of their weapons is discharged sending one brother to the hospital and the other to jail. Further community unrest is stirred up by the new Baptist Pastor who doesn’t like having the Catholic Priest in charge of the annual goat rodeo that members of his congregation participate in. Loretta Singletary tells Samuel, “He doesn’t think the Catholics should get all the glory.”
Things get serious when Loretta Singletary, a pillar of the community and very reliable, hasn’t visited Samuel with his usual baked goods and misses an appointment. She has changed her hair style and colour and is even dressing younger which is totally out of character. Now she’s gone missing.
The plot thickens when it’s discovered that she had joined an online dating site and was meeting men for coffee.
Tension mounts when a second woman’s body is found. Her crushed remains lie crumpled at the side of the road having been run over and as if that wasn’t good enough the miscreant then backed over her.
Shames keeps the reader guessing with dead ends, cold trails and red herrings aplenty as she builds the suspense. You’ll be drawn irresistibly forward in your quest for the solution to the mystery and the hope that Loretta is still alive.
I won’t look at online dating services quite the same way again. Terry Shames, author of seven Samuel Craddock mysteries has done it again. This, the eighth in the series, makes for a very entertaining read. I would recommend “A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary”.