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The Devil Went Down to Austin Hardcover – May 29, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
Book 4 of 7 in the Tres Navarre Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (May 29, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553110977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553110975
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on June 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Author Rick Riordan is on a roll! In this story, a murder investigation of Tres Navarre's friend, yields Navarre's brother as the #1 suspect. No room for error in Texas--a certain death sentence is looming. Riordan displays quite an aptitude for characterizations, as well as a great grasp of the great state of Texas.
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Format: Hardcover
Tres Navarre, San Antonian private investigator with a PhD in English Lit is, as the saying goes, hip deep in alligators. It seems his paraplegic brother, Garrett, a programming phenom and Jimmy Buffet parrothead, has mortgaged the family ranch to help pay his portion of a high-tech start-up, Techsan Security Software, and the lender is about to foreclose. Techsan's software product has run into all kinds of problems and bugs since a corporate takeover offer was refused and now lawsuits are being filed by all their beta-testers. When Garrett's oldest friend and partner, Jimmy Doebler is found murdered and all the evidence points to Garrett, Tres decides to head on down to Austin, wade into this mess, against his brother's wishes, and see if he can sort out what's really going on..... Rick Riordan has outdone himself with his latest unforgettable mystery/thriller, The Devil Went Down to Austin. His compelling, intricate plot comes at you from several different directions and is full of powerful, riveting scenes and his cast of terrific characters are original and well drawn. But it's Mr Riordan's sharp, witty writing and attention to detail that really make this novel stand out. With a stunning climax that ties up all the loose ends and a very satisfying ending, this is an intriguing story that's a "must read" for all mystery/thriller fans. If you're new to the Tres Navarre series, start at the beginning with The Big Red Tequila and read them all. If you're already hooked, you definitely won't be disappointed this time out!
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Format: Hardcover
English professor-cum-PI Tres Navarre heads from San Antonio up to Austin just in time to see his brother Garrett arrested for murder. A highly personal case becomes even more personal when attorney Maia Lee, the past love Tres never got over, arrives to defend Garrett and uncover facts about one of her own ex-clients.
I read 'Devil Went Down...', the fourth Tres Navarre title, immediately after finishing the first one, 'Big Red Tequila.' It's clear that author Rick Riordan's style and plotting have improved over time. Not that they were ever bad to start with -- far from it. But though still packed with Riordan's trademark twists and turns, the story in 'Devil Went Down...' was easier for me to follow than the often convoluted plots of earlier titles. Part of the difference may be that there seemed to be fewer characters to keep straight in this story.
There's one element of this book I'm not so sure about. From time to time, Riordan interrupts the narrative to include anonymous email messages. I won't spoil anything by saying what relevance, if any, these have to the story. But for the first time in the series, the reader has information that's not available to our narrator. As I said, I'm still not sure what I think of that.
On the other hand, I want to thank Rick Riordan for not allowing this novel's scuba-diving scenes to become James Bond-movie-style underwater mega-battle parodies. That would have been a tough hurdle for me to overcome.
This story takes place almost entirely in Austin, not Tres' hometown of San Antonio. But the South Texas atmosphere is still strong, Tres is maturing as a person (in his world) and as a fully drawn character (in ours), the other characterizations are solid, and the story itself is powerful. Of the four Navarre titles so far, the third and fourth have been my favorites. Which suggests that even greater things are to come -- he wrote hopefully.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In all fairness, let's set the paradigm. I am a Parrothead, so, any book that even mentions Jimmy Buffett is on my must-read list. That's why I picked up Riordan's book. That is not, however, why I couldn't put it down. His characters are high-definition, his plot is intriguing and very timely, but what I enjoyed most was how he can turn a phrase and/or capture a feeling or a mood. From the "aluminum quality" of sinking beneath water, to Austin's "big-boned sister," his writing is truly superb, and very deserving of his many literary awards. This is a writer to watch. He has the urbane quality of a Burke, he approaches the dialogue ability of a Leonard, and his characters laugh at themselves like Parker, but there is really something special and unique about Riordan, his outstanding ability to trigger the senses with his words, to "show" (not "tell"). There was a time we all looked at Harris for that quality; turn your eyes toward Riordan.
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Format: Hardcover
As a mystery writer with my first novel in its initial release, I've been an admirer of Mr. Riordan's work since his first Tres Navarre book appeared in print four novels ago. Tres Navarre is a San Antonio PI and English professor, and this current case involves his brother Garrett as the prime suspect in a homicide. Jimmy Doebler gets murdered a short while after getting divorced from Ruby McBride, one of Garrett's business partners. Garrett has mortgaged the family ranch to start an Internet company. In THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO AUSTIN, Tres has to solve the murder, clear his brother, and save the homestead. This book is another winner for Rick Riordan. Read it today.
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