Book: The Sheriff and the Panhandle Murders (The Sheriff Charles Matthews Mysteries) by D.R. Meredithcategories: Book, Humorous Mystery, Texas County Sheriffs, Rural Mystery, Police Procedural, Texas Panhandle, Texas Mystery
D.R. Meredithabout this book: No one called Sheriff Charles Matthews "Chuck" or "Charlie." No one asked him why a wealthy lawyer from Dallas, Texas, decided to move to the northern Panhandle and settle in Crawford County. Everyone knew why he ran for sheriff. The former sheriff was nobody's idea of an honest public official, and Charles believed the residents of Crawford County deserved better. Even though he was an outsider with no nickname and a stern demeanor, Charles won election by a landslide. With the help of tobacco-chewing Chief Deputy Meenie Higgins, whose age was as big a mystery as Charles's past, he set about learning the people and customs of rural Crawford County. That was not an easy task as the citizens tended to give directions by referring to landmarks that might or might not still be in existence. "Turn right where the old Ideal Grocery store used to be, Sheriff," was only one example. Another problem arose from the fact that so many Crawford County citizens were related by blood or marriage, so Charles never knew who might offense at some casual remark about a cousin-by-marriage on his wife's brother-in-law's side of the family. Everyone knew everyone else's business, or thought they did, so when Billy Joe Williams is murdered, common knowledge labels him as a lazy young man who drank a little too much and lived off his mother's meager income. But no one knows who murdered him or why. Who would waste his time killing a worthless, but mostly harmless youngster like Billy Joe Williams.
When pretty teenager Maria Martinez is murdered and her body disposed of in a most horrifying manner, Charles is sure the two murdered are connected. But how? Maria's parents would not have permitted Billy Joe Williams within a country mile of their daughter, so what did Billy Joe know about Maria Martinez that led to his death? Crawford County hadn't had a deliberate homicide in more than 80 years, and suddenly it had two. Disrupting the sheriff's investigation into the two murder is the controversy over the bingo game at the annual Frontier Days celebration. Retired sixth-grade schoolteacher, Miss Megan Elizabeth Poole is determined to shut down the bingo game; Jim Bob Brown, chairman of Frontier Days, is hiding in the courthouse men's room to avoid his former teacher; and County Attorney L.D. Lassiter is hiding to avoid taking Miss Poole's complaint. In addition, disreputable Justice of the Peace Sammy Phillips is lying about his relationship to Maria; and Maria's brother, Roberta, vows to kill whomever murdered his sister.
Sheriff Matthews narrow down his list of suspects and learns secrets about his fellow citizens that even he had rather not know.
• "Meredith is an artist with words. Her well-rounded characters are vivid, her presentation of idiomatic language makes for realistic dialogue, and the almost unknown geographical area seems more than a spot on a large-scale map." — MURDER AD LIB
• "Murder has another winner." — EL PASO TIMES
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