Terry Shames Pink photo.jpg


Terry grew up in Texas, and her Samuel Craddock series, set in the fictitious town of Jarrett Creek, is based on the fascinating people, landscape, and culture of the small town where her grandparents lived.

The first book in the series A Killing at Cotton Hill received the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery of 2013. It was nominated for The Strand Critics Award and a Left Coast Crime award for Best Mystery.

The Last Death of Jack Harbin was nominated for a Macavity Award for Best Novel and was named one of the top ten mysteries of 2014 by Library Journal. MysteryPeople named Shames one of the top five Texas mystery authors of 2015.

Her sixth, An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock, a prequel, January 2017, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which called it a "superior" novel with "resonance in the era of Black Lives Matter." Read more from Publishers Weekly on An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock.

Terry's background

Terry grew up in Lake Jackson, on the Gulf Coast, attending Brazosport High School, where her friends will not be surprised to learn that she was heavily involved in theater, acting and directing, and in the school chorus.

To finance her undergraduate years at the University of Texas in Austin, she worked as a secretary to a larger-than-life law professor, a waitress, and for two summers worked at Yellowstone National Park—some of the most fun she ever had, and where she made lifelong friends from all over the country.

After graduating from UT, she joined the CIA, where she was trained at Langley, Virginia as a computer programmer/analyst. She worked in that field for the next several years, moving from Washington, D.C., to Denver, Colorado and eventually settling in San Francisco.

Burned out in the stress of the computer world, and wanting to concentrate on writing, she attained her real estate license and worked in that field while she got her MA in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.

No matter what job she pursued, she was always writing, and had a few short stories published in small literary magazines.

Her first foray into novel-writing was a sci-fi novel of the extra-terrestrial variety—now safely tucked away in a drawer. From there she began writing mystery novels, taking a break while her son was in school. When he was a senior, she went back to writing, and soon began work on the Samuel Craddock series.

Terry now lives in Berkeley with her husband and two rowdy terriers. Her son, Geoffrey, lives in Los Angeles, where he works in social media. She is president of Northern California Sisters in Crime and on the board of Northern California Mystery Writers of America.