In The Book of Murdock by Loren D. Estleman, no-nonsense deputy Page Murdock goes undercover as a traveling preacher. After a two-week crash course in religion from a defrocked priest, Murdock is sent to Texas -- a place he hates on all levels -- to try to track down a gang of ruthless bandits that have been terrorizing the area. In the process his cover begins to unravel when he encounters an old girlfriend and her husband, who somehow are mixed up with the bandits. The caustic, whiskey-drinking Murdock is also surprised to find that he has become a favorite of the locals with his Sunday sermons. Though not as action-packed as some, this story has a clever plot and a satisfying conclusion.
Recommended by Angela Prandini