The Branson Beauty, an old showboat, has crashed in the waters of an Ozark mountain lake just outside the popular tourist destination of Branson, Missouri. More than one hundred people are trapped aboard. Hank Worth is still settling into his new role as county sheriff, and when he responds to the emergency call, he knows he’s in for a long winter day of helping elderly people into rafts and bringing them ashore. He realizes that he’ll face anxiety, arguments, and extra costs for emergency equipment that will stretch the county’s already thin budget to the breaking point.
But he is absolutely not expecting to discover high school track star Mandy Bryson’s body locked inside the Captain’s private dining room. Suddenly, Hank finds himself embroiled in a murder investigation, with the county commissioner breathing down his neck and the threat of an election year ahead of him. And as he wades deeper into the investigation, Hank starts to realize he’s up against a web of small town secrets much darker and more tangled than he could have ever imagined.
In her captivating debut novel, Claire Booth has created a broad cast of wonderfully compelling characters, and she perfectly blends humor with the emotional drama and heartache of a murder investigation.
Touches of sly humor add appeal to Booth's standout debut, a mystery set in Branson, Mo. Hank Worth, the new sheriff in town, faces his first real case after leaving the Kansas City police when a showboat owned by powerful businessman Henry Gallagher, the Branson Beauty, runs aground in an Ozark lake. Hank spearheads the resources needed to get more than a hundred stranded people off the boat safely. What he wasn't expecting to find was an incoherent captain, Albert Eberhardt, at the wheel and a murdered teenager, Mandy Bryson, in a locked room, and this is just the beginning of a tangle of surprises and deceit. Hank and his highly competent deputies search for answers, especially when more crimes come to light. The pieces come together slowly, but, when they do, there's more than one aha moment for Hank and the reader. 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.