Jack Harbin and his best friend Woody Patterson, both high school football stars, joined the army together. Woody, however, was rejected and stayed behind, eventually marrying the girl Jack loved. When Jack returns from the war having lost the use of his legs and his sight, he’s an embittered man and will no longer speak to Woody.
Shortly after Jack’s father dies, Jack is brutally murdered. In the small town of Jarrett Creek, high school football is a major topic of discussion, so when the town council asks Samuel to investigate the murder, he is reluctant to take the job. Once he agrees to investigate, he turns over dark secrets and a wealth of possible suspects, including a jealous husband, a religious cult leader who refuses to let his wives leave, and a conspiracy brought on by Jack’s disabilities.
The characters in “The Last Death of Jack Harbin” are as diverse as they are realistic. The small town atmosphere rings true throughout the novel, including in the dialogue and descriptions. From the opening scene in a feed store, the reader is immersed in a world of small-town politics, rivalries, and actions.
This is a classic whodunit with the reader following Samuel through his investigation, never quite knowing who’s telling the truth and who’s not. “The Last Death of Jack Harbin” is a traditional mystery focusing on the investigative process, not on danger to the main character or forensic processes. For fans of the genre, this is a solid second book in a promising series.
FTC Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided by its publisher.
The website for Terry Shames is at terryshames.com.