Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: Vengeance is Mine: A Red River Mystery (Red River Mystery #4) by Reavis Z. Wortham







  • Series: Vengeance is Mine (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1464202605
  • ISBN-13: 978-1464202605

Book Description

 In October of 1967, The Summer of Love is history, rock and roll is dark and revolutionary, and people in the small east Texas community of Center Springs simply want to live their lives as quietly as possible. But a handsome darkness in the form of Las Vegas gangster Anthony Agrioli has left the business to hide out in the tiny backwater settlement with his blond bombshell girlfriend.

Two years earlier, Agrioli met newlyweds Cody and Norma Faye Parker in a Vegas casino and heard their enthusiastic descriptions of the perfect place to settle down and raise a family. At least it was perfect, before their peaceful world found itself directly in the crosshairs of a coming confrontation.

Back in Center Springs, thirteen-year-old Top Parker has what his grandmother, Miss Becky, calls a Poisoned Gift. His dreams, though random and disconnected, always seem to come true. This time Top dreams he’s a wagon hub with spokes converging from all directions. To him, the spokes symbolize that something is coming, but he doesn’t know their quiet community will soon be a combat zone when the gangsters arrive, but they’re after something else and not Agrioli…yet.

A sheriff crooked as a dog’s hind leg, an unsolved murder in the river bottoms, counterfeit money and a bank robbery all wrapped in a country Shakespearian comedy once again brings together Constable Ned Parker, Constable Cody Parker, Deputy John Washington, Judge O.C. Rains, and the rest of Wortham’s real and sometimes wacky cast of characters.


Other Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Mob enforcer Anthony Agrioli’s latest assignment is to rub out some Cuban casino owners in Las Vegas—and their young children. He takes care of the adults without trouble but has some problems killing the kids. He takes it on the lam, beating it out of Vegas before his boss can track him down, but not before hooking up with a beautiful blonde (who will turn out to be a handful of a different sort than he had hoped). Hiding out in Center Springs, Texas, Anthony soon finds out this seemingly peaceful town is like a beacon for violence and corruption, most of which has nothing directly to do with him, but all of which soon ensnares him. This very entertaining novel, set in 1967, is reminiscent of Donald E. Westlake’s Mob comedies The Fugitive Pigeon (1965) and The Busy Body (1966), which, like this book, feature offbeat characters getting themselves into offbeat situations—although this book also has a more serious side, too. Those who have read the author’s earlier books, including The Right Side of Wrong (2013), will be familiar with Center Springs and its rather unusual denizens, but knowledge of those earlier volumes is not required. This is a fully self-contained story, and it’s real corker. --David Pitt --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

"Reavis Wortham doubles down in Vengeance is Mine, the fourth in his Red River Series, and for mystery readers it's a Full House when Las Vegas intrigue invades Center Springs, Texas. Aces High, Constables Ned, Cody Parker and company are terrific riding and reading partners."

 -Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries, the basis for A&E's hit series Longmire

Reavis Wortham is the new voice to be reckoned with in suspense fiction.  His sense of place and character is second to none.  Clear the calendar after you open the cover of VENGEANCE IS MINE, because ain't nothin' else gonna get done once you start reading.

--John Gilstrap, Author of END GAME and the rest of the Jonathan Grave thriller series

"Reavis Z. Wortham's Vengeance is Mine is a winning and unusual book.  Equal parts small-town tale and thriller, the combination is both entertaining and emotionally engaging.  Wortham is at his best in the small Texas town of Center Springs, where this and his three other "Red River Mysteries" are set.  The small-town characters carry the day but Wortham hits his thriller marks too, and the result is a solid and humane story."
 -- T. Jefferson Parker, New York Times bestselling author of "The Famous and the Dead"

One part suspense story and one part coming of age novel, Vengeance Is Mine is all parts entertaining. With crackling dialogue and colorful descriptions, Reavis Wortham makes rural Texas of the 1960s roar to life. Vengeance Is Mine is a page turning novel with multi-layered characters and plot twists that will leave the reader guessing until the very end. It is not to be missed.
Michael Morris, author of Man in the Blue Moon

"Loaded with healthy doses of humor, adventure, and intrigue, populated by a remarkable cast of characters both good and bad and featuring one heck of an electrifying climax is a throwback to the pulp era in the best possible sense. A great read."  --Owen Laukkanen, bestselling author of The Professionals and Kill Fee

Reavis Wortham is the new voice to be reckoned with in suspense fiction. His sense of place and character is second to none. Clear the calendar after you open the cover of Vengeance is Mine, because ain’t nothin’ else gonna get done once you start reading. (John Gilstrap, author of End Game and the Jonathan Grave series)

One part suspense story and one part coming-of-age novel, Vengeance Is Mine is all parts entertaining. With crackling dialogue and colorful descriptions, Reavis Wortham makes rural Texas of the 1960s roar to life. Vengeance Is Mine is a page-turning novel with multi-layered characters and plot twists that will leave the reader guessing until the very end. It is not to be missed. (Michael Morris, author of Man in the Blue Moon)

Loaded with healthy doses of humor, adventure and intrigue, populated by a remarkable cast of characters both good and bad, and featuring one heck of an electrifying climax, Vengeance is Mine is a throwback to the pulp era in the best possible sense. A fantastic read! (Owen Laukkanen, bestselling author of The Professionals and Kill Fee)

...a winning and unusual book. Equal parts small-town tale and thriller, the combination is both entertaining and emotionally engaging. The small-town characters carry the day but Wortham hits his thriller marks too, and the result is a solid and humane story. (T Jefferson Parker, New York Times bestselling author of The Famous and the Dead)

Big city excitement and violence come to quiet Center Springs, Tex., in Wortham’s homespun fourth Red River mystery (after 2013’s The Right Side of Wrong). In the fall of 1967, Las Vegas hit man Tony Agrioli and his new girlfriend, Samantha Chesterfield, decide Center Springs is “the perfect place to settle down and start a family.” Two years earlier in Vegas, Tony met honeymooners Cody Parker, a Center Springs constable, and his bride, Norma Faye Parker, who spoke highly of their hometown. Unfortunately for almost everyone, one of Center Spring’s leading citizens also has ties to Las Vegas, and Constable Ned Parker, Cody’s uncle, is soon dealing with an unsolved murder, counterfeit money, and a bank robbery. The appealing cast includes 13-year-old Top, Ned’s grandson, and Top’s cousin, Pepper (also 13), who chafes at life in the country. Wortham pays homage to a disappearing way of life in this thoughtful series. (Publishers Weekly)

Reavis Wortham doubles down in Vengeance is Mine, the fourth in his Red River Series, and for mystery readers it’s a Full House when Las Vegas intrigue invades Center Springs, Texas. Aces High, Constables Ned, Cody Parker and company are terrific riding and reading partners. (Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries, the basis for A&E’s hit series Longmire)

Mob enforcer Anthony Agrioli’s latest assignment is to rub out some Cuban casino owners in Las Vegas—and their young children. He takes care of the adults without trouble but has some problems killing the kids. He takes it on the lam, beating it out of Vegas before his boss can track him down, but not before hooking up with a beautiful blonde (who will turn out to be a handful of a different sort than he had hoped). Hiding out in Center Springs, Texas, Anthony soon finds out this seemingly peaceful town is like a beacon for violence and corruption, most of which has nothing directly to do with him, but all of which soon ensnares him. This very entertaining novel, set in 1967, is reminiscent of Donald E. Westlake’s Mob comedies The Fugitive Pigeon (1965) and The Busy Body (1966), which, like this book, feature offbeat characters getting themselves into offbeat situations—although this book also has a more serious side, too. Those who have read the author’s earlier books, including The Right Side of Wrong (2013), will be familiar with Center Springs and its rather unusual denizens, but knowledge of those earlier volumes is not required. This is a fully self-contained story, and it’s real corker. (Booklist)


About the Author

 As a boy, award-winning writer, Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for the fictional setting for THE ROCK HOLE. He was born in Paris, Texas, but lived in Dallas. “We grew up in the city and went to school there, but every Friday evening my parents put us in the car and made the 120-mile drive to Chicota, where we truly lived at my grandparents’ place in the country until Sunday evening, when we came back to the city. Our true home was that little scratch farm in Lamar County.”

Author Reavis Z. Wortham’s first novel, THE ROCK HOLE, is described by Kirkus Reviews as “an unpretentious gem written to the hilt and harrowing in its unpredictability.” Kirkus also listed it as one of the “Top 12 Mysteries of 2011.”

BURROWS, the second Red River Mystery, received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly, “Wortham's outstanding sequel to The Rock Hole (2011)... combines the gonzo sensibility of Joe R. Lansdale and the elegiac mood of To Kill a Mockingbird to strike just the right balance between childhood innocence and adult horror.”

In a recent Starred Review by Kirkus Reviews says of BURROWS, “As in Ned’s debut (The Rock Hole, 2011), his grandchildren, Top and Pepper, are on hand to provide welcome humor and lend perspective to the acutely and unobtrusively observed small-town landscape. The result is that rare bird, a mystery with something for everyone.

Reavis also penned DOREEN'S 24 HR EAT GAS NOW CAFE. More than 1,500 newspaper and magazine articles bear the byline of this award-winning Texas writer. THE ROCK HOLE was a finalist in the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award presented by the Independent Book Publishers Association.

THE RIGHT SIDE OF WRONG, book three in this gripping series, will be released in July, 2013.

Reavis is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the Writers’ League of Texas, and the International Crime Writers Association.

He lives with his wife, Shana, in Frisco, Texas.



My Review

Fabulous series by author Reavis Z. Wortham. I have read the entire series and have enjoyed it immensely. It is set during the 1960s in northeast Texas. It was a time that was less than fifty years ago but feels like a lifetime ago. Following the adventures of Top and Pepper, the grandchildren of Ned and Becky Parker, is always fascinating.

This latest book, Vengeance is Mine, is filled with dizzying action throughout as former mafia lieutenant Tony Agrioli and his new wife settle into Center Springs. The town is soon engulfed by Tony's pursuers and the associates of a crooked lawman. Pepper longs for the action of California and the mystic of the Summer of Love during a time when their lives are consumed with more action than anyone can hope for.

Always magical to fall into the bosom of the Parker family and the drama that continually surrounds them. Fascinating to grow up with Top and Pepper. Vengeance is Mine is a great book...easy to recommend. Read the whole series if you can.


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