The following review has appeared also at Goodreads and Amazon.
A handsome stranger appears in a small Texas town just vacated by a corrupt law enforcement official. It's the classic Western scenario, updated for the 21st century in Texas author Melissa Lenhardt's Stillwater. But unlike the horse opera versions of the story,
An ex-FBI agent, McBride seems an unlikely pick for the small town's new chief of police. He thought the job in the town of Stillwater, Texas, where crime is seldom seen or heard, would be a welcome change from big city life. But his first day on the job he walks into a gruesome murder-suicide (or is it a double murder)? And then there's a long-cold case of a missing, possibly murdered wife, that parallels his own family's situation.
Fortunately, he's got the town's savvy mayor behind him, not to mention the mayor's winsome protege, Ellie Martin. But both mayor and Martin have angst of their own to fill a wagon train. Can McBride solve Stillwater's sudden crime spree before it kills him? And can he find true love to salve a heart broken by his missing wife ?
I sometimes found the romantic elements that envelope both McBride and his son distracting, but overall Lenhardt draws a well-nuanced picture of a small town and the even that can lurk within the hearts of her cast of characters. Maybe a tad too many characters -- I found myself flipping back through pages to remember who was who. But Lendhardt is leaving enough threads to fill a sequel (The Fisher King, out this month), perhaps even a series.