This author is one of the gems of my playing book roulette at my local library (where I randomly select a book from the shelf and read it, regardless of whether it looks like something I would normally be interested in).

Do Unto Others was his debut novel. It was quite different from the books I had read that had introduced me to the author--Collision and Trust Me. I had thought the author was devoted to stories about governmental agencies, terrorist cells, assassinations, etc. So when I opened up to chapter 1 and read, "It was really rude of Beta Harcher to argue with me right before she got killed. Downright inconsiderate if you want my opinion. The woman acted like she had a toll-free line to Jesus, so you'd think she would have had forewarning of her fate. Plus she went on her tirade in front of folks, which caused me all sorts of grief later. Fortunately, I'm not a man to complain about the lack of trump cards that life deals you."

I was wondering if it was the same author, or maybe someone else with the same name. This was a first-person narrative rather than third person. It didn't involve some well preserved elderly businessman in a several thousand dollar suit chatting with a homeless man while appearing that he wasn't--and we find out later that the homeless man is a wealthy foreigner who is financing terrorism. This was a book about a man who comes back to his small town to take care of his mother with Alzhiemer's and gets the job of the local librarian.

The rule with book roulette is that you have to finish the book, so I didn't put it down even though it wasn't what I expected. I'm glad I didn't. Apparently, Jeff Abbott started out writing murder mysteries--and this is the first of the Jordan Poteet mysteries.

As the paragraph indicates, Jordan Poteet has an argument with his nemesis Beta Harcher the day before she is murdered. She has lead a campaign to ban books at the library that she thinks are indecent, which resulted in her being kicked off the board. After she slugs him with a book of the profane D.H. Lawrence and makes a snide comment about his mother, Jordan Poteet says he could kill that old biddy in front of his patrons.

Unfortunately, those words come back to haunt him when Beta Harcher is found dead in his library the next morning. To make his case worse--he was the only one at the library at the time she would have died, and the murder weapon only has his prints on it.

A list of names with bible verses is found on the body of Beta Harcher. Jordy and his mother both are on the list with their quotes. Hoping to find the murderer to clear his name, Jordan starts his own investigation. He believes one of the people on the list is a murderer, and that Beta's death was due to her finding out someone's secret. The list of suspects include:
1) The preacher's wife at Beta's church--a woman who doesn't look like she could say boo to a mouse
2) Hally Schneider--Jordy's teenage cousin
3) Eula Mae Quiff--the local celebrity who writes steamy romance novels that outraged Beta Harcher
4) Matt Blalock--a bitter Vietnam vet
5) Ruth Wills--a nurse that Beta accused of trying to kill her at the hospital
6) Bob Don Goertz--the local truck dealer who suddenly seems very interested in helping Jordy
7) Jordy's mother--a woman who couldn't have murdered Beta due to her illness, and yet has made Beta's list of sinners

None of the people seem likely to be murderers, and yet when they are questioned--all seem like they are hiding something. Many had a fight with the woman a week before she died. Jordy's cousin went on a date with a girl he had no interest in, and it seems like he was doing it to have an alibi. As Jordan investigates, he starts to realize that the people he thought he knew in his small town have secrets--including Beta herself.

Then there is the matter of a large sum of money in Beta's account that was recently deposited. Was this religious woman blackmailing someone? Then her niece is shot when she walks in on an intruder rifling through Beta's house.

The characters are interesting and well-developed. The plot holds together. Clues are revealed at the right times to keep you baited and guessing. I'm usually good at picking the right suspect--I think when you write yourself, you start noticing the sleight of hand tricks authors use. However, I don't think the murderer is an obvious choice and will surprise most people. I recommend it.