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Thursday, January 5, 2017

“An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock” By Terry Shames

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

In the early 1980s, Texas A&M graduate and Air Force veteran Samuel Craddock became the youngest Chief of Police of Jarrett Creek, Texas. While it was believed that Craddock would bridge the generation gap and reach out to a youth culture’s growing drug problem, the racial divides are what are becoming a bigger concern. A fire in Darktown leaves five bodies in its wake. The tragedy was not just that many were very young, but that they were all shot to death first. When the State Highway Patrol Trooper leading the investigation quickly arrests a young black man whom Craddock just hired to help with his calves, he begins to look into the crimes that force him to evaluate his commitment to being the Chief of Police.

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When readers first met Craddock in A Killing at Cotton Hill, he was retired and mourning the loss of his beloved wife. In this prequel we meet the forceful Jeanne Craddock, an artist who taught her husband to appreciate art and who was not entirely supportive of his career in law enforcement. It definitely sheds a new light on the woman who becomes idealized in his memories, yet readers will never doubt their powerful love and commitment to one another. Craddock must also contend with his estranged brother Horace, whose abuse of his wife may be the least of his crimes. With all of the strife both at home and at work, Craddock’s charming affection for his new calves makes perfect sense; it is with them that he finds peace and appreciates the beauty of life.

Image source: Seventh Street Books

Seeing a less jaded, more vulnerable Samuel Craddock adds so many new layers to a character who later becomes the epitome of a lackadaisical Texas lawman. His feeling torn between Jeanne and his law enforcement duties is something never seen before in this series, and it only solidifies just how canny and dedicated an investigator he eventually becomes. The era and Texas country setting fully comes alive, as the author brings to light the racism and sexism that we wish no longer prevailed. Seeing familiar characters from previous books here in their youth makes re-reading them an unexpected delight, as it stealthily reinforces their older personas. The sly humor is as consistent as the conflicts Craddock continually faces in pursuing his duties. Never more has a novel felt as timely, as the same tensions, prejudices, and crimes sadly still exist over thirty years later.

To enter to win a copy of American Knights, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “knights,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 14, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please included your mailing address.

You can use these links to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Looks like an intriguing read. Please enter me to win. Thank you! mbradeen@yahoo.com

  2. I'm confused. The review is for a book titled An Unsettling Crime but the paragraph regarding the book to win, indicates it is a copy of a book called American Knights. dbahn(at)iw(dot)net

  3. Sorry forgot to change that--the first title is the correct one