About a year and a half ago, I happened to meet Mr. Reavis Wortham at Sleuthfest here in Orlando. He introduced himself to me and told me he would love for me to read his debut of a mystery series set in 1964 Texas. I was totally game...I love a good mystery series and I love a great setting. Since then, I've not only read his first novel "The Rock Hole", but his second installment called "Burrows" last summer, and now his latest "The Right Side of Wrong".
I'm not ashamed to admit, I'm hooked. Each novel focuses on Center Springs, a small town in Texas, and on the town constable Ned and his entourage...his nephew Cody, who is next in line for his job, his wife Miss Becky, his BFF Judge O.C. Rains, and the two young-uns, Top his grandson, and Pepper his grand niece. They are a wonderful group of characters I've come to love. But each novel is a little different in terms of the mystery. I was pretty excited to discover what the gang was up to this time.
Synopsis: On a late night run to investigate a domestic disturbance, Cody is ambushed...he is shot at, wrecks his car and is left for dead. His life is saved by an elusive stranger that has just moved into town. Ned makes it his personal business to figure out who would want Cody dead, and it doesn't take much nosing around to flush out the culprit. The bigger question is WHY.
The world seems to be going crazy. Everyone is afraid of Russia and nuclear war. Marijuana has made its appearance in their little corner of the world. There are suicides and accidents that smell more like murder to Ned. Is there any connection? The answer ultimately is found in a rotten crevice of a town in Mexico, where the townsfolk are crooked and the law is even worse. This time, Ned's going to have to put aside his respect for the law, and he's not sure if he and all those he loves will make it out alive.
My thoughts: I may be repeating myself, but while the author spins a good story, the real attraction of this series to me are the bones within. The mid-sixties truly come alive for me, which is fun because that is when I was born. The party lines, the rock salt ice cream, the sense of community! The characters are full of piss and vinegar, and have an endearing Southern way about them...the slang, the fishing, the guns. I particularly adore Top and Pepper. If those two aren't the spitting image of Scout and Jem!
It also seems to me that Reavis understands that there is only so much a little town like Center Springs can handle. I am reminded of my frustration with the mystery series that takes place in Amish country...how many cold-blooded serial murderers are running around in a place like that? Reavis acknowledges this by throwing out a grab bag of malfeasance, but still inspires enough fear to make your heart race. There was a scene late in this story, taking place in a Mexican prison, that got my blood pumping!
The ending lays the foundation that will transition right into the next book, and that excites me. Keep 'em coming!
4 out of 5 stars