Things are good for San Antonio middle-school teacher-cum-mystery author Rick Riordan--great, in fact. His first two outings featuring San Antonio PI and part-time English professor Tres Navarre (Big Red Tequila
, The Widower's Two Step
) scored Shamus, Anthony, and Edgar awards, and The Last King of Texas
has been likened to the proverbial sliced bread. In The Devil Went Down to Austin
, on the other hand, things stink for Tres Navarre. His paraplegic brother, Garrett, has surreptitiously mortgaged the brothers' Austin ranch to subsidize an Internet startup. One of Garrett's partners, Ruby McBride, has been making nice with a sleazy corporate-takeover maven, Matthew Peña, and Garrett's been violently feuding with his other partner and lifelong friend, Jimmy Doebler. As for Jimmy, his day started with his divorce from Ruby and ended with a shot to the head. Worse yet, Jimmy bought it in his Chevy pickup by his lakeside home, just feet away from a ranting, beach-sprawled Garrett.
All that remains for Tres to do is exonerate his brother, find the real killer (whose clue-laden e-mails alternate with Tres's narrative, delivering Texas-sized creepiness), save the ranch, and with the help of Maia Lee, a beautiful lawyer from his past, untangle a skein of Doebler family murder, misery, and hurt. Witty, sharp as glass, and plotted as well as it's written, The Devil Went Down to Austin paints a high-tech Texas laced with treachery and tequila before a cranked-up Jimmy Buffett backdrop. Expect great things, because Riordan delivers. --Michael Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
Powerful writing about a palpable evil distinguishes Edgar, Anthony and Shamus award-winner Riordan's fourth Tres Navarre novel. The tough, wisecracking PI and English professor moves himself and the action from his San Antonio base to Austin, where he expects simply to teach University of Texas students and visit with his brother, Garrett. But instead of tackling Beowulf he must tackle a different quest, a different monster. Garrett, software genius and free spirit, has launched a startup company called Techsan Security Software, with his friend Jimmy and Jimmy's wife as partners. Enter a truly nasty character who devours startup companies like Techsan, leaving a trail of ruined or dead owners in his wake. Techsan's brilliant beginnings lead to a takeover offer, while the offer's rejection leads to troubles that threaten to destroy the company and the Navarre family ranch, which Garrett has used as security. Soon one of Garrett's partners is dead, Garrett's the prime suspect and Tres is digging desperately for any foothold that will keep his brother from jail. An extremely skillful writer, Riordan manages a complicated plot without losing narrative force. Even the potentially distracting use of periodic asides, in the form of e-mails from the killer about his past crimes, serves to heighten tension and provide a focus for the reader. Then there's the spectacular, unforgettable description of a dive into a preserved pecan orchard at the bottom of a man-made lake. Some blatant misdirection may disgruntle certain readers, but this is a mere quibble with a book sure to enhance the author's solid reputation. (June 5)Forecast: Backed by blurbs from Dennis Lehane, Tami Hoag and Harlan Coben, this book is a dead cert for genre bestseller lists.
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