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Southtown [Mass Market Paperback]

Rick Riordan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Dec 28 2004
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
 
For Tres Navarre, English professor turned private investigator, business has lately taken a drastic turn south. But if chasing down bail jumpers, adulterous spouses, and workmen’s comp cases seemed like the dregs of the PI game, it was at least a living. Not as much could be said for tracking down a man like Will “the Ghost” Stirman.

The stone-cold killer has just staged a bloody escape from the Floresville State Penitentiary with a gang of violent cons as spooked by Stirman as those on the outside who helped put him behind bars. And no one seems more worried than Navarre’s boss and mentor, Erainya Manos. It was her husband along with rival PI Sam Barrera who built the case that sent Stirman away. But Erainya’s husband is dead and she’s certain Stirman won’t let that stand in the way of his taking revenge against her and her adopted son.

All of Navarre’s instincts are screaming that there’s more to this case than meets the eye. But Erainya won’t tell him—and Sam Barrera seems to be escaping into a strange twilight from a truth too terrible to remember. That leaves Tres to dig into a twisted mystery of greed, vigilantism, and murder, where lives are bought and sold and the line between guilt and innocence is razor-thin. Meanwhile, Stirman and his gang are coming, leaving behind them a trail of brutal, unforgiving violence that will end in an area of San Antonio known as Southtown—but that may soon just as well be called hell on earth.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Riordan's superb fifth Tres Navarre novel (Big Red Tequila, etc.), about the former Berkeley professor now working as a PI in his native San Antonio, Tex., features a fairly standard-issue villain, Will Stirman, but it also has the courage and imagination to make Stirman if not sympathetic at least understandable in his rage against the people who stole his life. The author also makes us believe in the tortured, untrustworthy brain processes of Sam Barrera, a former FBI agent now trying desperately to keep working as a PI in spite of rapidly advancing Alzheimer's. Barrera and former cop Fred Barrow ended Stirman's career as a flesh peddler selling illegal Mexican immigrants into slavery, and the first thing on Stirman's mind after a bloody prison escape is revenge against these two. But Barrow is long dead, shot by his abused wife, Erainya Manos, the tough and touching woman for whom Navarre works. When Stirman turns his rage against Manos and her eight-year-old son, whose soccer team Navarre coaches, the Texas PI gets more involved in the search for the escaped convict than his local police friends would like. Coping with Barrera's heartbreaking mental lapses and trying to balance his anger at Stirman with a growing feeling that a lot of the man's anger might be justified, Navarre walks a thin, highly believable and surprisingly suspenseful line that should delight old Riordan fans and win new ones.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Tres Navarre has a cute name, a doctorate in English literature, and an unexplained taste for sitting around in cars watching deadbeats enter and exit buildings. Navarre works for a woman who specializes in finding bail jumpers, deadbeat dads, and insurance cheaters. The action in this critically acclaimed series set in Texas walks a thin line between realistic comedy and cartoon silliness; usually that tension energizes the drama, but this time the comic-book side dominates. A typical scene: Tres is dining with his girlfriend at a table overlooking a waterfall. She spots a waiter bearing a knife and sneaking up on Tres; without missing a beat, Tres upends the waiter into surging water below. This time out, five convicts have escaped from Floresville State Penitentiary. Their leader is intent on killing Tres' boss, the widow of his two-timing partner. Riordan delivers plenty of action and violence here, but he slips badly in handling his characters. He's a past winner of the Edgar, the Anthony, and the Shamus awards, however, so his latest will attract an audience. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Rollicking fun in San Antonio May 1 2004
Format:Hardcover
When last we saw Tres Navarre, he was busting up the heroin trade in San Antonio's West Side and considering a more challenging job as a medieval studies professor. Luckily for fans of contemporary crime thrillers, Navarre chose dark alleys over the Dark Ages, and he's back after a three-year sabbatical.
Rick Riordan's new "South Town" heralds Navarre's return after publishing his stand-alone thriller "Cold Springs" last year. And the action picks up at the same pace it left off.
The promise of confronting a killer that even killers fear is how Riordan coaxed his popular protagonist out of literary retirement. "Cold Springs," was his fourth book, but his first without Navarre. Having won crime-fiction's Triple Crown (the Edgar, Shamus and Anthony awards) on the strength of the Tres Navarre series, it was a wise move for Riordan, who in real life is a mild-mannered teacher at an upscale private junior high school in San Antonio.
Not that "Cold Springs" was a clunker -- it wasn't. But Navarre is truly one of hard-boiled crime fiction's most complex and sarcastic sleuths since Phillip Marlowe. But while Marlowe wasn't especially cuddly, Navarre holds both black belt in karate and a Ph.D. in English from Berkeley.
And "South Town" -- a localism for the down-side neighborhoods of San Antonio -- runs faster than a Texas road-runner on August asphalt as it hurtles through the diverse worlds of human trafficking, homicide cops and one-hundred-year floods. Riordan populates it with a delightfully motley cast, from widow-raping perverts to a shady pawnshop owner turned stay-at-home dad -- and a third-grade soccer team. As usual, Riordan careens through his Gordian plot only to add a final, thought-provoking twist that no sane reader sees coming.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I missed Tres ... and kinda still do. July 28 2004
By Andrew S. Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm a big fan of Rick Riordan and his San Antonio PI Tres Navarre. I've enjoyed Riordan's previous novels, including the non-Tres Cold Springs, and am ready to declare he's the one novelist whose next work I'm always anxiously awaiting. After reading Southtown, I think I have to say my single favorite sentence in the entire work is the one at the end of the About the Author section: Rick Riordan "lives in San Antonio ... where he is at work on the next novel in the Tres Navarre series."

I'm looking forward to that one because, unfortunately, Southtown didn't quite slake my thirst for another great Tres adventure. In The Devil Went Down to Austin, the last Tres novel, Riordan introduced the technique of departing from Tres' first-person narrative from time to time to give the reader information Tres himself never saw. Now, in Southtown, about half the story is told in omniscient third-person. Only Tres' own scenes are told in his own voice.

This technique allows Riordan to do the kind of psychological exploration he did in Cold Springs. But it makes for a lot less Tres than many of his fans might like -- especially since this book already struck me as fairly brief relative to the other books in the series (it can't just have been my eagerness to read the story that let me finish the book in just a few hours over two evenings), and perhaps a little hurried. At one point, I found myself wondering whether Riordan is getting bored with Tres Navarre. After all, Conan Doyle came to hate Sherlock Holmes and was eager to push him over Reichenbach Falls so he could move on to writing other things. Riordan seems to be exploring different ways to convey psychological tension and suspense, which is great. But as a fan, I'm hoping Tres isn't getting in his way.

That's not to say this is a bad book. Certainly Tres fans won't want to pass it up. I've mentioned in a review of another Tres Navarre title that it's nice to see him maturing as a person (in his world) and a character (in ours), and both those processes continue in Southtown. Many of the supporting characters from earlier books are back, but Tres' relationships with them have evolved in subtle -- or sometimes less subtle -- ways. And the resolution of this story suggests even bigger changes to come in the future.

Southtown is a fine story and a good entry in a high-quality series. But it fell just a little bit short in paying off the eagerness with which I awaited it. So while I again find myself looking forward to the next Tres Navarre novel, I'm hoping the author isn't feeling compelled to turn them out too quickly. There haven't been any bad (or even so-so) Riordan books yet, but in my opinion the best Navarre books have been *really* good, and that's what I'm hoping to see again.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rollicking fun in San Antonio May 1 2004
By Ron Franscell, Author of 'The Darkest Night' - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When last we saw Tres Navarre, he was busting up the heroin trade in San Antonio's West Side and considering a more challenging job as a medieval studies professor. Luckily for fans of contemporary crime thrillers, Navarre chose dark alleys over the Dark Ages, and he's back after a three-year sabbatical.
Rick Riordan's new "South Town" heralds Navarre's return after publishing his stand-alone thriller "Cold Springs" last year. And the action picks up at the same pace it left off.
The promise of confronting a killer that even killers fear is how Riordan coaxed his popular protagonist out of literary retirement. "Cold Springs," was his fourth book, but his first without Navarre. Having won crime-fiction's Triple Crown (the Edgar, Shamus and Anthony awards) on the strength of the Tres Navarre series, it was a wise move for Riordan, who in real life is a mild-mannered teacher at an upscale private junior high school in San Antonio.
Not that "Cold Springs" was a clunker -- it wasn't. But Navarre is truly one of hard-boiled crime fiction's most complex and sarcastic sleuths since Phillip Marlowe. But while Marlowe wasn't especially cuddly, Navarre holds both black belt in karate and a Ph.D. in English from Berkeley.
And "South Town" -- a localism for the down-side neighborhoods of San Antonio -- runs faster than a Texas road-runner on August asphalt as it hurtles through the diverse worlds of human trafficking, homicide cops and one-hundred-year floods. Riordan populates it with a delightfully motley cast, from widow-raping perverts to a shady pawnshop owner turned stay-at-home dad -- and a third-grade soccer team. As usual, Riordan careens through his Gordian plot only to add a final, thought-provoking twist that no sane reader sees coming.
Riordan's Navarre is tough to beat, mentally or physically: His wise-cracking is as abundant as his skull-cracking. A Tres Navarre thriller inspires as many laughs as gasps.
Any reader who waits impatiently for every new Dave Robichaux or Stephanie Plum mystery can add Riordan to his to-be-read list. He's one of the real artists in the world of neo-noir, where a private-eye can politely question an outlaw by splashing his face with fajitas -- then go out the next morning and coach a youth-league under-10 soccer team.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rollicking fun in San Antonio July 24 2004
By Ron Franscell, Author of 'The Darkest Night' - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When last we saw Tres Navarre, he was busting up the heroin trade in San Antonio's West Side and considering a more challenging job as a medieval studies professor. Luckily for fans of contemporary crime thrillers, Navarre chose dark alleys over the Dark Ages, and he's back after a three-year sabbatical.

Rick Riordan's new "South Town" heralds Navarre's return after publishing his stand-alone thriller "Cold Springs" last year. And the action picks up at the same pace it left off.

The promise of confronting a killer that even killers fear is how Riordan coaxed his popular protagonist out of literary retirement. "Cold Springs," was his fourth book, but his first without Navarre. Having won crime-fiction's Triple Crown (the Edgar, Shamus and Anthony awards) on the strength of the Tres Navarre series, it was a wise move for Riordan, who in real life is a mild-mannered teacher at an upscale private junior high school in San Antonio.

Not that "Cold Springs" was a clunker -- it wasn't. But Navarre is truly one of hard-boiled crime fiction's most complex and sarcastic sleuths since Phillip Marlowe. But while Marlowe wasn't especially cuddly, Navarre holds both black belt in karate and a Ph.D. in English from Berkeley.

And "South Town" -- a localism for the down-side neighborhoods of San Antonio -- runs faster than a Texas road-runner on August asphalt as it hurtles through the diverse worlds of human trafficking, homicide cops and one-hundred-year floods. Riordan populates it with a delightfully motley cast, from widow-raping perverts to a shady pawnshop owner turned stay-at-home dad -- and a third-grade soccer team. As usual, Riordan careens through his Gordian plot only to add a final, thought-provoking twist that no sane reader sees coming.

Riordan's Navarre is tough to beat, mentally or physically: His wise-cracking is as abundant as his skull-cracking. A Tres Navarre thriller inspires as many laughs as gasps.

Any reader who waits impatiently for every new Dave Robichaux or Stephanie Plum mystery can add Riordan to his to-be-read list. He's one of the real artists in the world of neo-noir, where a private-eye can politely question an outlaw by splashing his face with fajitas -- then go out the next morning and coach a youth-league under-10 soccer team.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars June 28 2014
By Melodee Placial - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Love the author and his cool, funny PI.
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed Dec 14 2013
By Joyc e A. Lampner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
It does not appear to be a new book which is what I paid for. Even my husband asked why I bought a used
book.
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