Sheriff Bo Handel series, No 2
Milton T. Burton
2010 / ISBN 9780312648008
Police Procedural / Caddo County, TX / Contemporary
by LJ Roberts
Shortly before sunup on a hot, dry morning in early September
of this past year, Amanda Willer, the local Methodist preacher’s
wife, was slaughtered and then dumped in front of the church parsonage.`
simple anymore. Sheriff Bo Handle certainly did not expect the murder
of the minister’s wife. Even less did he expect it would end
up being a multi-agency investigation involving local criminals,
drug lords and the New Orleans Mafia. So much for the simple life
of East Texas.
the second book in the series, Burton takes the time to introduce
his protagonist with a fully-developed backstory, look, trademark
and philosophy. Rather than seeming redundant, it re-ignites interest
in the character. It is also nice to have protagonists who get hungry
and tired; normal people rather than super-heroes even if the book
makes you hungry right along with Handel.
Handle is an engaging protagonist. He’s old enough to have
solid experience, not too old to have a lady friend, and isn’t
above a little “quid pro forever” blackmail. He knows
the value of interagency cooperation and is more interested in solving
the crime than claiming the glory. Through him the author also conveys
a wry sense of humor…”He turned his head a little to
look at Toby. “I can’t help noticing that you’re
black.” [Sipes] said. We were both startled by such an oddball
remark, but Toby recovered quickly and looked at me and said, “What’s
he saying, boss?” I nodded sadly. “It’s a fact,
Toby. We’ve tried to keep it from you, but…”;
that also includes delightful literary references.
provide an excellent depiction of a small, bible-belt town, whether
set in East Texas or anywhere, where people are known by to which
church they belong. There is a sense of timelessness to these communities,
yet they contain all the contemporary problems and crimes of any
urban area. Burton does an excellent job conveying this dichotomy.
The story is told with a first-person point of view which works
very well. The plot is built layer upon layer, a little over-complicated
at times, but still surprising the reader each step along the way.
The only disappointment
is in the extensive use of portents, none of which was necessary;
all of which could have been eliminated and improved the flow of
the story. Even with that flaw, Burton is an author whose writing
is admirable. Nights of the Red Moon, along with his previous
books, are well deserving of a permanent place in one’s library.