If you’re a fan of mystery novels and suspenseful thrillers, you need to add the Emmet Hardy trilogy to your list of books to read. Created by Chris Kelsey, this mystery series is full of plot twists and turns, reluctant heroes, and tense scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Kelsey’s debut novel, Where the Hurt Is, won the 2018 PenCraft Award for Best Fiction Book. In this story, the reader is introduced to Emmett Hardy, a jaded police chief who drowns his negative memories in liquor. It’s Oklahoma in 1965, and the small town Hardy lives in continues to promote casual but blatant racism. Hardy begrudgingly accepts this fact, but when a Black woman is found brutally murdered and abandoned near the train tracks, he’s determined to get to the bottom of the crime. However, his quest for justice may end up putting his own life in danger.
The second book in the series, Butcherville, won second prize in the Adult Published Book category at the 2021 Oklahoma Writers Federation Convention. Kelsey continues the story of Emmett Hardy, who becomes wrapped up in the small rural town of Butcherville, Oklahoma. Residents of this city refuse to hire their own police force, choosing instead to call Hardy personally when they need help. This arrangement worked smoothly until one business began taking advantage of the town’s lack of resources, which led to murders and kidnappings across the region. It’s up to Hardy to regain the residents’ trust and bring this evildoer to justice.
The third installment of the Emmett Hardy series was just published on May 6, 2021, but it has already received rave reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Sublime Book Review. In this novel, our hero Emmett Hardy has a mental breakdown after a dangerous and stressful investigation leads to tragedy. Hardy checks himself into a hospital for treatment, only to find that he has been suspended from police duty after he’s released. He’s on the brink of losing hope when he’s contacted by a dying prisoner who begs him to investigate an unsolved case from several years ago. Hardy, who’s struggling to stay sober, starts a half-hearted investigation, only to find himself in the midst of danger once again.