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The Devil's Odds: A Mystery Kindle Edition

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Length: 272 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Right off, we know where we are. It’s the Longhorn Barroom in San Gabriel, Texas. And when: December 1942. The “who” is lawman Virgil Tucker. His introduction to the girl across the room promises a noirish banquet. “She was blessed with everything a woman’s supposed to have.” But what follows is a goulash. Some sequences are parodies, as when an old man speaks Hemingwayese: “A contempt has grown in his heart.” Virgil cues us to the joke, leaving us wondering if all Texas cops have such literary learnings. But later we meet a fellow who discourses on T. S. Eliot. Then a local who intones “If you love the land, it will take care of you.” Neither scene has a stinger in its tail. The reader feels stranded. Too bad, because the fact-based core of the book—an attempt by the Louisiana mob to grab Galveston’s gambling scene—is strong, and there’s some fine tough-mouth writing: one thug looked like “spoiled meat in a fine suit.” The uncertain tone, though, will get in the way for many crime fans. --Don Crinklaw


Praise for Nights of the Red Moon:

“A lively and well-crafted plot...It made me glad to return to East Texas.”—Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post

“Burton’s rip-snorting third mystery will appeal to fans of Bill Crider, Ben Rehder, and Kinky Friedman.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Burton takes a sure hand to the small-town politics, paperwork hassles and easy authority of an East Texas lawman’s life.”—Houston Chronicle

“An outstanding example of Texas noir.”—Gumshoe Review
“A tasty slice of local pie.”—The Austin American-Statesman

Product Details

  • File Size: 558 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (February 28, 2012)
  • Publication Date: February 28, 2012
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00603QQQ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #614,498 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Milton T. Burton (1947-2011) authored four crime novels published by Minotaur/Thomas Dunne. Like Wier, Burton was a lifelong Texan who breathed the Texas lingo. Burton had been variously a cattleman, a political consultant, and a college history teacher. A cantankerous but generous man, he liked writing and he liked talking to his friends, especially George Wier. He died in December 2011.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeff VINE VOICE on March 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of Milton Burton's books. Sadly, he died in late 2011, so this is the last work of his I'll read. Boy, did he go out on a winner!

The Devil's Odds takes place in south eastern Texas for the most part. It is an ancient land where the people are substantively shaped by the geography in ways that most of us aren't. Burton's always been good with his Texas characters. They're very familiar to us in one way, but quite striking in another. The closest analogy I can think of is the characters the late John Ford created in his many movies that built his world view about how the West was settled. Although I think those movies have only a cursory relation to what actually happened, they sure are fun to watch, just as Burton's last book is fun to read.

This plot revolves around a young woman running for her life after she witnesses a murder. There's gangsters, gambling, and guns at the heart of the tale. And, of course, a Texas Ranger as the hero. Although Burton takes the plot in a direction I hadn't expected, it's a very satisfying turn. Except for getting up to get coffee, I read this book in one sitting, and a very fine time it provided.

Quite striking in this last book is the emphasis on Mexican history and the portrayal of Mexican people as amongst the finest people to live on the land. It doesn't distract from the plot at all, and when you're done, you'll have learned some things about Mexican history which will cause you to think.

But what I mostly think about is how many more fine books Burton could have written, had he lived. As the bio-blurb on the dust jacket suggest, he will be missed.

BTW, whoever commissioned the book cover at Minotaur did the author no favors. It shows an early 1960's style car in front of a ocean side supper club with men in white tuxedo jackets and women in formal gowns. Burton's book is set in WWII, and no character goes anywhere near a tuxedo or a gown.
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Format: Hardcover
Burton captures his audience from the first page in a nostalgic drama of 1942 Texas. Close ties to the state, his family and ranch, La Rosa, have given Ranger Virgil Tucker the core values that make him a good lawman and a loyal friend. When damsel-in-distress Madeline Kimbull turns to Virgil for help, he delivers, ushering the frightened young woman to safety within the borders of La Rosa- or so he thinks. Hiding from a possessive ex-boyfriend and a violent crime she witnessed- the murder of a prominent attorney- Madeline lures Tucker into the middle of a power grab between warring factions of organized crime, the coast of Galveston a bright jewel ripe for exploitation. Madeline holds the key to the trouble brewing in her wake, her fear legitimate in a world where cold-eyed gangsters grapple for territory from New Orleans to Galveston and wherever opportunity exists.

Make no mistake: Texas is not adverse to corruption, especially in Virgil's part of the country. But whatever accommodations have been make for practical reasons, these good old boys have long since established a workable quid pro quo between governance and special interests. The Sicilian-inspired attempt to make radical changes to the status quo necessitates immediate response as Tucker calls on seasoned law enforcement and a network of friends unafraid to meet force with force. This is old politics, Texas style, Virgil striding into the mouth of the beast knowing exactly what he faces, supported by rough-hewn men prepared to do what is needed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gary Griffiths VINE VOICE on March 10, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If Milton Burton's writing and bio are clues, you can bet he is a humble and unassuming man - a man possessing that rare breed of nobility that precludes petty jealousy. So I'll say it for him: Burton deserves a seat at the table with the great contemporary writers of American fiction. He is a natural raconteur whose honey-prose captures images of earlier and simpler times in the US South - smooth words rounding violent acts meted on both sides of the law, rich atmospherics of black-and-white films in dusty theaters under neon marquees. Burton's country charm and wisdom, reflected through the rogue's gallery of colorfully drawn characters, was never more evident than here. While this story of crime and justice is straightforward, the telling is uncommon.

"The Devil's Odds" is a tale of south Texas during WWII - of Virgil Tucker, a Texas Ranger who grew up on a ranch running along the Rio Grande. Virgil is approached by a pretty young woman who, after witnessing the murder of a locally prominent lawyer and councilman, seeks protection. Tucker senses there is more to the story than she is letting on, leading to run-ins with Dixie Mafia-types and treachery with and without badges. As the proverbial plot thickens, violence notches up and bodies start accumulating, and soon the wily and formidable Tucker realizes his life and the lives of those close to him are at risk. In this gripping tale of frontier justice, Burdon turns up the adrenaline but never loses the pace or atmosphere. The cadence may feel easy, but the tension builds subtly and doesn't let go.
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