Butcherville - Book Review

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Butcherville

Author: Chris Kelsey
Genre: Fiction - Mystery - General
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date Published: January 23, 2020
ISBN-10: 168433425X
ISBN-13: 9781684334254

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GoodReads Rating:
4.27

Book Review of :  Butcherville



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Butcherville by award-winning author, Chris Kelsey, is the second book of his mystery/suspense, crime thriller series featuring small-town police chief, Emmett Hardy. The novel is set in the 1960s, in the town of Butcherville, Oklahoma where the residents are such independent thinkers and demanders of expressing their freedom that “while painful to imagine, you can almost laugh, it’s all so ridiculous.” Although this novel is about law and order, cops and robbers, it is written with witty characters. Police chief Hardy and his crew are an amalgamation of Walt Longmire, Matt Dillon, Andy Griffith, and Gomer Pyle.

The novel gets going when the reluctant police chief, Emmitt Hardy, of Burr, Oklahoma, is called upon to investigate the disappearance of thirteen-year-old Earl Collins from the tiny neighboring town of Butcherville. Told in the first person by Chief Hardy, who admits he has a drinking problem, the plot revolves around his investigations into unscrupulous business deals with big oil. He shares his view on money and power struggles, greed and politics, and friends and foes as he tries to solve the kidnapping and the motive for murders. This novel is more character-driven than a typical thriller.

Kelsey has a flair for character descriptions as in: Hardy describes an ex-con, “he had a mouth like a channel catfish. His crusty green teeth gapped and overlapped willy-nilly, like roof shingles after a tornado”. Mrs. Bellchamber’s face looked like it was made of modeling clay, “peeled off and run through a blender, then plastered back on without much concern for which part went where.” Another character had hair that looked like it had been “washed in used motor oil and styled with hedge clippers.”

The seriousness of kidnapping, blackmail, and murder aren’t downplayed by the use of humor but enhanced. Hardy is forced to shoot men in self-defense, thinking, “John Wayne, eat your heart out”, then he threw up all over his boots. But he needed a new pair anyway. Hardy displays an understanding and tolerance of people's foibles, and acutely intuitive with respect to recognizing individuals who are likely to commit crimes.

Hardy’s job is made more difficult when he has a run-in with the county sheriff who sabotages the chief’s investigation by confiscating his badge and service pistol. However, the loss of official command doesn’t deter his determination to do away with the evil greed that threatens the town of Butcherville. More than once, Hardy faces the barrel of a gun, in fear for his life and the safety of the community.

Hardy gets better at solving cases and hooking readers with his witty banter and serious sleuthing. Watching him ferret out the bad guys with wit and humanity (and more than a few bullets) endears you to this fallible, devil-may-care, tenacious and strong character. You will also find Kelsey’s writing talent shining through as he describes the small town Oklahoma backdrop, the locals, and the turbulent sixties.

If you like to read stories that have intrigue and nasty villains pitted against a sentimental,  emotionally vulnerable hero, but who has grit, determination, a flashclub and the ability to draw a pistol like cowboys of old than Kelsey’s Butcherville is for you.


Reviewed by: Carole W

About Chris Kelsey


Chris Kelsey grew up in Oklahoma, the son of a jazz musician and a school librarian. He's played the saxophone since he was knee-high to an armadillo and made a name for himself playing, teaching, and writing about strange and obtuse forms of modern jazz. Chris currently lives in Dutchess County, NY, with his wife Lisa, son Jasper, and daughter Meret. "Where the Hurt Is," is Kelsey's first novel.





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