Bill Crider is one of my favorite Texas mystery writers. I found out he co-authored a book called Houston Homicide with a former PI named Clyde Wilson. I had two reasons to read the book. First, it was written by Bill Crider and second, it takes place in Houston where I grew up.
A family (man, wife, and his mother) is murdered in their home. This is when a homicide detective in the Houston Police Department is introduced in the book. His name is Ted Stephens. He is asked to take charge of the investigation by his boss.
The book was written in a first hand account. It seemed to me this book had a flavor of the tv series Dragnet. Do you remember the phrase “just the facts”? This was the type of information you learn from Ted Stephens early on – very concise. There was very little elaboration.
Ted Stephens identifies and investigates several likely suspects – including a son of the murdered man. He is helped in his investigation by a friend – a PI named Clive Watson. Each of the suspects seem to have alibis – including the son. Does it sound like the son was involved?
Well…, as a result of his investigation and the help of his friend, he is able to determine the son was involved. He gets testimony from a dirty lawyer and he discovers the alibi of the son was not true. His alibi was a young lady who was on drugs. She is rescued when a drug overdose would have meant her death. Thru this experience she becomes convinced she has a calling to become a nun. So she decides to confess and verifies the son committed the murders when he was trying to rob his grandmother.
With the information he gets, Ted arrests the son and closes the case.
As a side story, Ted learns the girl who wants to become a nun is diagnosed with cancer a week after the case is closed. A month or so later, he learns the cancer goes into remission. He is not sure he believes in miracles but in the end decides he needs to go back to church.
Oh..., by the way. The phrase “just the facts” was a shortened version of what was really said on Dragnet. The real phrase according to Snopes was “All we want (or know) are the facts”.