At the outset of The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake (the intriguing 4th book in Terry Shames’ Samuel Craddock mystery series), Police Chief Samuel Craddock gets a call from Charlotte Blake saying her older sister, Nonie, has been pulled from the stock watering pond behind the house. She is dead, ostensibly drowned. Nonie was in a mental hospital for twenty years and until a few days ago, nobody in town knew she was back in Jarrett Creek, TX. The reason for Nonie’s commitment? She tried to hang Charlotte when Nonie was 14 and Charlotte was 8. That’s right, she tried to hang her kid sister!
Chief Craddock thinks the only possible suspects are the members of Nonie’s family. They’re an odd bunch anyway. Nobody in the family works, yet they seem to have plenty of money. Adding to the mystery surrounding the Blakes is the fact that Charlotte wanted her crazy older sister released. Their mother, Adelaide, seems less than thrilled to have her daughter back. The father, an old friend of Craddock’s, is entering the early stages of dementia. When Craddock finally peels him away from his omnipresent wife, Mr. Blake’s mental problems make the information he provides difficult to trust.
When Craddock checks the records at the mental hospital, he finds that Nonie was released ten years ago, not days earlier. Where has the woman been all this time? And why is there a bottle of prescription medicine for Susan Shelby among Nonie’s possessions? Tracking Susan Shelby down to a Wal-Mart in a neighboring town raises even more questions, including this one—if Nonie is somehow still alive, whose body did the Blakes pull out of their stock pond?
Solving this one out requires sorting through convoluted lies, multiple diagnoses for Nonie’s mental problems, and finally getting to the source of the family money. It isn’t an easy business, and takes all of Chief Samuel Craddock’s skills. Terry Shames is a Macavity Award winning writer and her expertise really shows in this latest installment in the Samuel Craddock Mystery series. This compelling story made me want to read all Shames’s earlier books.
If you have a book you would like featured, send an ARC for consideration. The Killer Nashville Book Reviews are coordinated by Clay Stafford with the assistance of Emily Eytchison and credited guest reviewers.
*Killer Nashville is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you purchase a book from the links on this page, Amazon will give Killer Nashville a small percentage of the total sale. Killer Nashville receives zero compensation (other than sometimes the book to review) from publishers who have been selected for the Book of the Day.