A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary: A Samuel Craddock Mystery
“Entertaining and easy to read, this book offers serious reflection on the hazards of online dating for those not fully prepared for the risks involved while affording readers another chance to follow Chief Craddock as he solves a new mystery.”
Jarrett Creek police chief Samuel Craddock becomes concerned when his friend Loretta Singletary, well known to readers of the Craddock mystery series, goes missing after an odd visit during which she will only admit that she’s on her way to meet a friend. Her clothes and hairstyle are different, and a few days later when Craddock drops over to her house, he finds unwashed dishes in the sink, empty hangers in the bedroom closet, and a missing suitcase.
When it comes to light that Loretta has been frequenting an online dating site for seniors, Craddock considers the possibility, however unlikely, that she has begun a liaison with a man she met online. But when a woman in the nearby town of Bobtail turns up dead after becoming involved with someone through the same dating site, Craddock’s concern turns to alarm.
Working with Bobtail police officer Brent Hogarth, Craddock probes for connections between the two cases, searching for clues that will lead him to Loretta before time runs out for her as well.
A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary is the eighth Samuel Craddock mystery novel by Texas native and Berkley, California, resident Terry Shames. Her first in the series, A Killing at Cotton Hill, received a Macavity Award in 2013, and the second novel, The Last Death of Jack Harbin, was nominated for a Macavity the following year.
A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, she worked as a computer programmer/analyst for the CIA and a real estate agent before turning to creative writing. Jarrett Creek, the home of Samuel Craddock and his friends, is based on the small town where her grandparents lived.
Shames writes with a calm, laid-back tone that welcomes the reader into the story like an old friend. Fans of the series feel exactly that way, and if you’re one of those folks who hasn’t come across Chief Craddock before, well, it won’t take you long to settle in and feel right at home.
On of the interesting things about Craddock is that most of his friends are women. There’s Wendy Gleason, his current love interest; Ellen Forester, his former girlfriend (who once saved his art collection from destruction and remains a good friend); Jenny Sandstone (Wednesday wine evenings); and, of course, Loretta, who usually arrives unannounced with baked goods.
In addition to providing Craddock with plenty of opportunities to socialize, they also function as a decent network of informants whenever the need arises. Craddock extracts what information he can from the circle as the mystery of Loretta’s disappearance deepens.
A new addition to the fold is Dusty, a six-month-old border collie mix who rides around everywhere with Craddock, sharing in the adventure. Reminiscent of Walt Longmire’s “Dog,” Dusty provides Craddock with a companion who effectively highlights his kind and patient nature.
In one particularly amusing scene toward the end of the story, Craddock is at home late at night, searching on his computer for clues while mulling over the possibilities. He gets up and begins to pace, deep in thought, when:
“I’m suddenly aware that Dusty is pacing with me. When I stop he sits down with a sigh. I crouch down and he flops over to show me his belly. I scratch it. ‘You don’t have to worry about me,’ I say. He turns his head to look at me, and I swear he’s thinking that I’m wrong. It’s his job.”
Hopefully, readers will see much more of Dusty going forward.
A Risky Undertaking is a worthy addition to the Samuel Craddock series. Entertaining and easy to read, this book offers serious reflection on the hazards of online dating for those not fully prepared for the risks involved while affording readers another chance to follow Chief Craddock as he solves a new mystery.