Book: Murder by Deception (A John Lloyd Branson Mystery) by D.R. Meredithcategories: Book, Amarillo, Texas, Humorous Mystery, Courtroom Drama, Nuclear Waste Depository, Environmental Disasters, Police Procedural, Texas Mystery
D.R. Meredithabout this book: "At first glance, he was a fine figure of a man: tall, broad-shouldered, slim-hipped, with curly black hair and blue eyes. Even the butcher knife buried in the middle of his chest didn't seriously detract from his good looks."
Somebody murdered Charlton Price-Leigh the Third and dumped his body in the middle of Leroy MacPhearson's wheat field. To Sergeant Schroder and his reluctant pardner, Sergeant Jenner, the perpetrator is obliviously MacPhearson. The farmer's footprints are found at the crime scene, and his fingerprints are on the butcher knife. It's a slam-dunk for Sergeant Schroder and Special Crimes. Price-Leigh the Third was in charge of the Department of Energy's proposed High Level Nuclear Waste Depository site in Deaf Smith County, just a little south and west of Amarillo, Texas, and thus was the most hated man in the Texas Panhandle--at least by all the farmers and ranchers and those dependent on agriculture, which was almost everybody not dependent on the oil and gas industry. One leak, a little seepage, a shift in the earth's crust, and the tenth most agriculturally productive area in the United States would be laid waste by a radioactive time bomb with a ten thousand year fuse. Even worse, the waste depository site, more often called "the dump," was right over the Ogallala Aquifer, the vast underground water supply for eight states and part of Canada. From productive land to nuclear waste in a single generation. Most of the population of the Panhandle would rather vote a Public Service Award for Leroy MacPhearson than see him tried for murder.
Fortunately for MacPhearson his lawyer is John Lloyd Branson, the Panhandle's most eccentric, most brilliant, most ruthless criminal defense attorney in the state. And John Lloyd has already discovered the weak spot in the State's case. The crime scene is a deception; the evidence is no less a deception, and the witnesses are also guilty of deception. Cleetus "Maximum" Miller, the Assistant District Attorney prosecuting the case against MacPhearson, also suspects deception, but the object of his suspicion is John Lloyd Branson. Maximum Miller and John Lloyd have butted heads before, and the ADA has come off with the short end of the stick every time. But not this time. No way, no how.
John Lloyd is serenely confident of winning an acquittal for his client, because, appearances not withstanding, MacPhearson is innocent. But who is guilty when at least half the Panhandle has a motive? What is the ultimate source for the deception, and how are Leroy and his family involved?
• "The first mystery I've seen in which the truth is more frightening than fiction, the only mystery I have ever read in which I felt that I might be one of the ultimate victims." — Sharyn McCrumb
• "Meredith again demonstrates that sinister criminals and horrifying crime do not require London fog or New York streets to be exciting...Branson and his lovely assistant keep the action and the humor flowing as the horror dances around the edges of the tale." — Fort Worth Star-Telegram
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