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In 1964, when Ned Parker, farmer and part-time constable, is summoned to a cornfield one hot morning to examine the remains of a tortured bird dog, he discovers that there is a dark presence in their quiet community of Center Springs, Texas. Ned is usually confident handling moonshiners, drunks, and instances of domestic dispute. But when it comes to animal atrocities—which then turn to murder—the investigation spins beyond his abilities.
Ned combines forces with John Washington, a well-known black deputy sheriff from nearby Paris, Texas, to track down a disturbed individual who has become a threat to their small community.
As the case takes a dizzying series of twists and brings forth eccentric characters as well as several dead ends, Ned’s cranky friend, Judge O. C. Rains, is forced to contact the FBI. Then, sinister warnings that his family has been targeted by the killer lead Ned to the startling discovery that he knows the murderer very well. After the failed abduction of his precocious grandchildren, Top and Pepper, the old lawman becomes judge and jury to end what has become a murder spree in the Red River bottomlands. And it signals the end of an era in Center Springs.
In bald-headed, pot-bellied Ned Parker, Wortham has created an authentic American hero reminiscent of the best heroes and antiheroes in a story that blends country humor with heart-pounding suspense and ends with a stunning climax that may well shock our civilized sensibilities.
A Poisoned Pen Press Mystery
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Amazon Customer on 07-19-16
A Must Read
This is a book that you could listen too time and time again. Great character development coupled with a story line that one knew would end badly for someone but not in the way most would have expected. The narration was exceptional and really fit the characters to a tee.
5 Stars on all counts.
37 of 37 people found this review helpful
By Livia on 09-15-13
"To Kill a Mockingbird" Meets "Longmire"
I suppose I have Longmire on the brain because I have just finished that series (and it was worth every second). Just as in Longmire, I fell in love with these characters pretty quickly, as well as the small town constable's interactions with people he has known all of his life. The relationship between grandpa and Top is charming, and reminiscent of "To Kill a Mockingbird", partly because some of the narrative is told from Top's side, and partly because they're so damned likeable. The author does a nice job of evoking and integrating the tempo, issues, music and views of the early 1960s, and the insidious effects serving in the Vietnam conflict had on the lives of the young men sent there, and the small towns where they returned after they served. The mystery is a good one, with twists and turns, and false starts that mislead the listener. This was altogether worth the read, and I will be buying the next in the series.
76 of 78 people found this review helpful