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Publisher's Summary

In 1919, Delano, Georgia, appoints its first chief of police. Honest and hardworking, the new chief is puzzled when young men start to disappear. But his investigation is ended by the fatal blast from a shotgun. Delano's second chief-of-police is no hero, yet he is also disturbed by what he sees in the missing-persons bulletins. In 1969, when Delano's third chief takes over, the unsolved disappearances still haunt the police files.

Author Stuart Woods' riveting novel spans three generations while also probing deep into Southern small-town attitudes and behavior. The residents of Delano, with their reluctance to disturb a familiar social order, provide the perfect backdrop for this tale of dark secrets and murder.

Over 40 years ago, Woods found a battered chief-of-police badge in his grandmother's house. It had belonged to his grandfather, who had been shot in the line of duty. The story of the lawman's death inspired Woods to write Chiefs, which won an Edgar Award and was made into a popular TV miniseries.

©1981 Stuart Woods; (P)2006 Recorded Books LLC

Critic Reviews

"A riveting story of the Deep South that mixes murder mystery with political intrigue." (Publishers Weekly)
"A fascinating, compelling tale." (The New York Times)
"The homey wisdom of [Hammer's] voice, coupled with Woods's engaging story, makes this audiobook memorable." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Story
  • Kathy
  • Davis, CA, United States
  • 01-21-15

One of the Best Ever!

If you haven't listened to this book yet, you are really missing something wonderful and unforgettable. Yes, it has been around for a long while which means there are alot of reviews. So don't just take my word for it. Look at the reviews here. (My favorites are from Karen and Linda Lou.)

But let me add a few words of my own. This is a story that engulfed me, one of those books I just couldn't remain on the surface of. The characters are so well-developed that I felt I knew them. I came to really have strong feelings about them--whether I liked them or hated them, there was so much emotion evoked. And when I really care about a character, I feel such fear when they are in danger. At one point--no, at a couple of places--I had to turn the book off, as I couldn't bear to know what happened next. Of course, I braced myself and I went back, as I had to know. I kept telling myself to trust the author and the other reviewers.

Listening to this first book from well-known author Woods was a very rewarding experience. The narration was the best you can find, in my opinion. What is this nonsense about it being too slow? Ridiculous. Mark Hammer had it down perfectly. His cadence and speed matched perfectly what you would expect of the old south. I wouldn't have had it any other way. Perhaps that is why the story was so believable. He is a genius!

Read the story description about the dead police chiefs. There is really SO much more than that here. Look at all the glowing reviews. And do yourself a favor and get this book. I am so glad I did.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Keeps you listening for hours

This is an excellent crime story with a interesting premise that a serial killer is almost caught twice by the police chief only to escape capture for decades or longer each time. If you like James Lee Burke novels, you will like this one. It is well written and narrated.

Because the book takes place over several decades spanning from the 1930s to 1990s it also is a good historical novel, recreating the tensions between whites and blacks in the south. Never having lived in the south I do not now if the attitudes expressed in the book are real or just fiction. The book takes a great turn when chief #3 is black

There are several great scenes in book, especially when the police arrest their new police chief not knowing who it is. "get out of the car boy", he is told on a routine police shakedown. After reading this I have a better understanding why blacks don't trust the police to often. I would say it's just fiction, but the police in my town arrested a black man for sitting in a car outside a nice home. He was just waiting for his daughter and was a prominent Boston attorney.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fabulous Book

For me, this was a sleeper! I wasn't expecting much, but the story was terrific!

This was my first Stuart Woods novel and I will now look for others.

The book not only captured the sense of a long running murder mystery, but also a piece of Americana and politics in the rural south in the 20's - 50's.

Some won't like Marc Hammer, as he slurs and mumbles a lot.... and adds at least 2-3 hours to the listen, but I don't mind him and didn't let it distract me from a 5-star rating!

This is a good one.. don't miss it!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Nadine
  • Klamath Falls, OR, USA
  • 04-03-07

GREAT book

I work on our farm all day, and a book plugged into my ear keeps me company, so a good story is my friend, and this book had me so absorbed I felt like I lost a friend when it ended.
Great reading.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Chiefs: Slow Start .... Didn't Want It To End...

Worth a listen again and again. I enjoyed this story and the length (17.5 hours) added to my enjoyment. I picked this one based on the many glowing reviews but especially on the recommendation of a member that I follow. Yes, it was a bit slow picking up speed, but when it did you knew something about the major players and their back story as well as some of the interconnected relationships .... which helped to increase my interest and elevated the mystery of the story.

The Publisher's Summary is good, but this story is more than a "serial killer" type murder mystery. Yeah, the murders that happened across three or four generations are the glue that holds the story together, but it is also about the deep cultural elements of Delano's southern small-town attitudes and behaviors. Be sure to read reviews by Jean of Sana Cruz and Richard Delman of San Francisco ... but most, if not all reviews of this story are glowing.

This mystery is about crime and deception. The in-depth character development in the early chapters helped make the people even more memorable. The mystery hangs on exposing the sexually depraved man. We learn in the very first two or three sentences that there is a sexually depraved man in town. There are lots of suspense, political dealings, and family interactions as we are drawn into the life of a small town in the racially divided South.

The mystery and suspense are intense and is maintained throughout. It grabbed me by my emotional throat and didn't let go until the end. The ending was very fitting to the overall story. There are very few novels that have captured my attention and held my interest so completely as this story. It feels like you are drawn into the town and into the character's lives. Well worth the credit and time. Highly Recommend.....

The narrator, Mark Hammer's performance was on point.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great story!

I was in the mood for a good, can't put it down story and Chiefs delivered. The narration is excellent, the characters very well drawn and the story just pulls you into the book. This is not a great literary masterpiece but sometimes I just need a riveting story to keep my attention while I move through what I usually gravitate to in a strong literary piece. This one hit the spot.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Needs editing. Great story.

Chapter numbers are actually running into the previous chapter and no transition occurs. Very difficult to know how to prepare for the next chapter. The story is wonderful and the author as a gift for storytelling. Get the book despite the editing problems. You won't regret it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Best accidental find in a while

This is a surprisingly engaging and deep story. It gripped me from beginning to end, and I found the multi-generational plot to be marvelously constructed.

The characters are extremely well-written. They are nuanced, and flawed and believable. When they are in peril, you really care.

Fascinating world-building, too. I really enjoyed how we explore the growth of a small town, and how attitudes about race unfold before our eyes.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great listen!

In spite of a slow start this is a great book. I really enjoyed it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • B.J.
  • Minneapolis, MN, United States
  • 05-02-12

Absolutely terrific.

I don't know if my southern heritage influences the way I feel about this book, or if it's just as good for people without that history. Whatever the case, this is one of the most realistic views of the south I've ever read. It's a heartbreaking part of our nation's past, yet has been crafted into a compelling novel. The narration is perfect. I think this would make a great book club book.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful