Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: The Rock Hole by Reavis Z. Wortham

  • Author:  Reavis Z. Wortham
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159058886X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590588864

In 1964, farmer and part-time Constable Ned Parker combine forces with John Washington, the almost mythical black deputy sheriff from nearby Paris, to track down a disturbed individual who is rapidly becoming a threat to the entire small Texas community of Center Springs. 

When Ned is summoned to a hot cornfield one morning to examine the remains of a tortured bird dog, he finds a dark presence in their quiet community. A farmer by trade, Ned is usually confident when it comes to handling moonshiners, drunks and domestic disputes.  But the animal atrocities turn to murder, and the investigation spins beyond his abilities.  

After a dizzying series of twists, eccentric characters and dead-ends, the body count rises as Ned’s friend, cranky Judge O.C. Rains, is forced to contact the FBI.  Worse, sinister warnings that his family has been targeted by the killer lead Ned to the startling discovery that he knows the murderer very well. After the failed abduction of his precocious grandchildren Top and Pepper, the old lawman becomes judge and jury to end the murder spree in the Red River bottomlands.     

With a heart-pounding pace, country humor and a stunning climax, The Rock Hole speaks to the darkness in us all.  In bald-headed pot-bellied Ned Parker, Wortham has created an authentic American hero who will put you in mind of the best heroes and antiheroes you’ve ever experienced. 

The year 1964 was the end of an era in Center Springs, and the climax may well shock your civilized sensibilities.

About the Author:

As a boy, award-winning writer, Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for Center Springs.   He is the author of Doreen’s 24 HR Eat Gas Now Café. Humor editor and frequent contributor for Texas Fish and Game Magazine, he writes on everything from fishing to deer hunting. In addition to several other magazines, his work has appeared in American Cowboy and Texas Sporting Journal. A retired educator of 35 years, he and wife Shana live in Frisco, Texas.

My Review:

What a gem of a book!  Poisoned Pen Press has discovered a new author whose writing is a delight.  Set in 1964 on the banks of the Red River on the Texas Oklahoma border this historical mystery keeps you turning the pages.  The author, Reavis Wortham, takes the reader back to a time that was not that long ago but in many ways was.  American society has completely changed in the past fifty years.  It is a reminder to us all that fifty years ago a person of color could not enter any business that they wanted to in the American south.  There were unsaid divisions that existed in businesses, in churches, and well pretty much everywhere you can imagine.  It is against this back drop that this fully captivating novel takes place.

Our main character, Constable Ned Parker knows what is happening:  "Staring glumly at his coffee, sadness and the futility of a lawman in a changing society swamped the man who only wanted to do the right thing."  And Ned does want to always do the right thing and that is what makes him a great hero.  And his grandson Top is so lucky to have him, his grandmother Miss Becky and their extended family.  An extended family that is being hunted and haunted by a dark sinister force that is always nearby but invisible to them. I wanted to finish the book to find out what the conclusions would be but at the same time I didn't want the book to end! 

I highly recommend this refreshing novel that debuts in June.  Pre-order a's worth it!

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