Butcher Pen Road
On Oklahoma’s Big Rock Prairie, a deaf boy finds a body in Pennington Creek. Johnston County Deputy Hannah Bond and Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Sergeant Bill Maytubby find a crime scene where nothing seems to fit—from the dead angler’s oversize waders to the kind of fish in his creel. They scour the creekside brush, then hit the road for Texas in a widening search for the killer.
On the Big Rock, a towering bearded man is building a limestone replica of Roman Jerusalem for a Christian passion play. His cronies, who are in league with an interstate fraud ring, want the boy to disappear now.
Flying an ancient rented Cessna, Maytubby takes fire from a suspect he is tailing, while Bond combs river trails for traces of the killer.
While Maytubby and Bond try to protect the deaf boy and his mother from the crime ring, an improbable ally materializes from the prairie oak thickets, wielding a monstrous shotgun.
The discovery of a body floating in a creek propels Lackey's subpar third mystery featuring Sgt. Bill Maytubby of Oklahoma's Chickasaw Lighthorse Police and Johnston County Deputy Hannah Bond (after 2019's Greasy Bend). At the crime scene, Maytubby and Bond are baffled by the fishing outfit worn by the victim, which is several sizes too big, and by gear unsuited for catching the type of fish in the creek. The victim is eventually identified as Douglas Verner, who was fatally hit with a piece of rebar well before he landed in the creek. Verner was cheating on his wife, but she's not the only suspect in the murder case. The boy who found the corpse and his mother are threatened one night, perhaps by those involved in the killing. Maytubby and Bond must put the evidentiary puzzle pieces together while around them different crime units fight for jurisdiction. The humorous banter between the pair distracts, and the often confusing narrative can be hard to follow. Series fans will hope for a return to form next time.