About Another Man’s Ground
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 11, 2017)
“This contemporary take on a locked-room puzzle is chilling, compelling and completely entertaining, and Claire Booth is a wonderful new voice in crime fiction.”–Hank Phillippi Ryan on The Branson Beauty
It starts out as an interesting little theft case. Branson, Missouri’s new Sheriff Hank Worth is called out to look at stands of trees that have been stripped of their bark, which the property owner had planned to harvest for the booming herbal supplement market. At first, Hank easily balances the demands of the investigation with his fledging political career. He was appointed several months earlier to the vacant sheriff position, but he needs to win the fast-approaching election in order to keep his job. He thinks the campaign will go well, as long as he’s able to keep secret the fact that a group of undocumented immigrants – hired to cut down the stripped trees – have fled into the forest and he’s deliberately not looking for them.
But then the discovery of a murder victim deep in the Ozark backwoods sets him in the middle of a generations-old feud that explodes into danger not only for him, but also for the immigrants, his deputies, and his family. He must rush to find a murderer before election day, and protect the vulnerable in Branson County, where politicking is hell and trespassing can get you killed.
In Another Man’s Ground, her next novel featuring Sheriff Hank Worth, acclaimed author Claire Booth delivers a taut, witty mystery that will grip readers from the opening pages to the breathless conclusion.
“The second in Booth’s regional crime series … is both an excellent police procedural and a surprisingly humorous look at politics and family feuds.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Booth’s affectionate treatment of the decent and shrewd people of Branson and Worth makes this a series worth following.” – Publishers Weekly
Praise for The Branson Beauty:
“Touches of sly humor add appeal to Booth’s standout debut…Betrayals from within the sheriff’s department and issues left unresolved hint at much more to come in what promises to be a most engaging regional police series.”-Publishers Weekly(starred review)
“Former crime reporter Booth’s debut introduces an engaging cop with wonderful family appeal. A nice discovery for enthusiasts of Joan Hess and Margaret Maron.”-Library Journal
“Former crime reporter Booth imbues her fast-moving narrative, which celebrates its Ozarks setting, with humor and humanity. A promising debut.”-Booklist
About Claire Booth
Claire Booth spent more than a decade as a daily newspaper reporter, much of it covering crimes so convoluted and strange they seemed more like fiction than reality. Eventually, she had enough of the real world and decided to write novels instead. Her Sheriff Hank Worth mystery series takes place in Branson, Missouri, where small-town Ozark politics and big-city country music tourism clash in, yes, strange and convoluted ways.
Hank Worth, interim appointee as Branson County Sheriff, stares at some trees which have been stripped of their bark. Vern Miles, the property owner, wants Hank to put out an APB on the person who stripped his trees. An APB for a barknapper? Not likely. It’s vandalism, pure and simple, and Hank doesn’t understand why Vern has his boxer’s in a bunch. That is, until Vern tells him that these trees are a cash crop. How so? Vern tells him that the trees are slippery elms and the inner bark is used in homeopathic health products (though Vern doesn’t use that fancy word). Whoever skinned these trees was not careful and now the trees are going to die. Hank takes the issue more seriously now.
He sees that the same type of trees across the small creek at the edge of the property have also been stripped. This property belongs to an ornery cuss named Jasper Kinney. The Miles and the Kinneys have been feuding for years. No one messes with Jasper Kinney. When the sheriff goes out to investigate the damage to Jasper’s trees, Jasper just slams the door in his face.
Yep, we have entered the Ozark mountain territory in Missouri, complete with hicks, rednecks, rifles, feuds, racism, illegal migrant workers, some good old boys, and some ne’er do wells mixed in. On top of the investigation, it is election year for the position of county sheriff. Hank has a fight ahead for his career as the good old boys have a candidate of their own, one of his own deputies. Hank is not a politician and is infuriated by having to campaign instead of working on cases. He finds himself in one situation after the other that could be interpreted as failure on his part though in reality he is handling things appropriately. It’s all in how the good old boys spin the issues. Hank has his fans and foes.
To add to the excitement (ha!) of debarked slippery elm trees, an accidental fall into a sinkhole on Kinney’s property turns up two dead bodies, one recent and putrefying, and an older skeleton of a small child. Hank has a real investigation on his hands, and believe it or not, the slippery elms, the dead bodies, Vern and Jasper, and the Taylor’s, a family of scumbag brothers, somehow all fit together. Hank doesn’t have time to campaign, but bossy wife, Maggie, thinks otherwise and hires a campaign manager. Hank can’t stand Darcy from the beginning and would like nothing better than to tell her to get lost.
Though there is a security leak in his own department, Sheriff Worth has some loyal deputies. One of them is Sheila Mulroy and she is smart and tough. I really liked this no nonsense woman. I would have liked to see her as sheriff instead of Hank, at least at the beginning of the book. Hank seemed a little wishy-washy to begin with, and with his wife, wearing the pants in the family, I didn’t think much of his ability. His character improves as the novel goes on and it turns out that he really is pretty smart. But without Sheila, solving the case would be a lot harder.
Overall, I would give this novel 4 out of 5 stars. It was a little hard for me to think the story would be interesting when the case of debarked trees was the opening of the book. Yet, it turned out that the story was woven well together, trees and all. The author did a very good job of weaving the various stories together into a fast-paced book. I enjoyed reading this book, though I really didn’t like Maggie at all. Hank seemed like a wuss at the beginning of the novel, but I was very glad to see that he developed nicely into a stronger character.
A special thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me the opportunity to read this novel in e-book form in exchange for a review of the novel.
(Side Note – Slippery Elm – the inner bark is found in a variety of holistic health products. People take slippery elm for cough, sore throat, colic, diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, bladder and urinary tract infections, syphilis and herpes. Or for those with a tapeworm problem, slippery elm is used. Can be used topically for skin wounds, burns, cold sores, toothaches, and boils. Slippery elm is used in some baby foods, adult nutritional supplements, and in sore throat lozenges. I don’t know about you, but I learned something new today courtesy of authoress, Claire Booth. Thanks, Claire.)