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The Devil Went Down to Austin [Mass Market Paperback]

Rick Riordan
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 25 2002
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
 
Rick Riordan, triple-crown winner of the Edgar, Anthony, and Shamus Awards, brings his fast-talking, hard-living, Texas-hip P.I. Tres Navarre to the heart of the Lone Star State—Austin—to unravel a case so dark, twisted, and deadly, it can only involve family....

Tres Navarre, the P.I. with a Ph.D. in literature, heads to Austin for a laid-back summer teaching gig. But he’s in store for a whole lot more. His big brother Garrett--computer whiz, Jimmy Buffett fanatic, and all-around eccentric—is hoping to retire a multimillionaire by the fall. He’s bet his career and the Navarre family ranch to do it.

Then Garrett’s oldest friend and business partner is murdered—and Garrett is the only suspect. As Tres delves into Garrett’s bizarre world to find the truth behind the murder, he comes face to face with the damaged relationships, violent lives, and billion-dollar schemes of a high-tech world gone haywire. Connecting them all is beautiful Lake Travis and the shocking secret that lies within its depths. Now, as Tres struggles with his own troubled family past and to clear his brother’ s name, he finds himself stalked by a cold-blooded killer—one who could spell the death of both Navarres.

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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Texas whodunnit Feb. 26 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Rick Riordan's 'The Devil Went Down to Austin' is a fun little murder mystery, starring PI-cum-lit-prof Tres Nevarre. This isn't the most thought-provoking novel that you'll read this year. But it's a quick and enjoyable whodunnit, with enough plot twists and entertaining characters inside to keep you breezing through the pages. Riordan does a good job of explaining the good guys' and the bad guys' motives. And you'll probably be surprised by the unexpected revelations at the end. 'The Devil Went Down to Austin' is good clean fun. And it's a nice little breather if you've just finished reading something a little bit heavy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unfair review Aug. 21 2002
Format:Hardcover
Tres Navarre is a private eye and English professor. His legless brother, Garrett, mortgages the family ranch to start up a software company in Austin, Texas. A dastardly take-over jackal tries to buy Garrett out for a mere three million and sabotages his new program when he refuses. Then Garrett is framed for the murder of one of his partners. There are suspense-laden scuba sequences. The real killer interpolates commentary into the text.
It is a well-written and ingeniously plotted page-turner and I feel churlish about denying it the fifth star, but the problem for me was a certain lack of originality. We have so many tough male private eyes. The plot involves adopted children and long-lost relatives like Ross MacDonald. The interpolated killer's voice reminds of Thomas Harris. None of this detracts from readability, so as far as entertainment value is concerned it's irrelevant, but it stops me putting Riordan in my pantheon of the great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Parrot Looks at Riordan July 23 2002
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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5.0 out of 5 stars English Prof with a Cat and Gun and No Girl? July 4 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There aren't too many Hispanic PI's, but Tres Nevarre is one of the most interesting and tough minded. San Antonio and Texas sized culture are stirred together by this English teacher who knows how to craft a fun page turner, as evidenced by his Shamus, Anthony, and Edgar awards. A great many characters and situations keep you from accurate guessing, or being bored by the focus. Who did what to whom over the software code? Will the bank reposess the ranch? Are any or all of the deaths connected? which woman will become the love interest? How important is the English literature class? Who are the stupidist relatives? Will the Texas bigshot family have a play? Is Robert Johnson a cat? Is the way San Antonio and Austin really are? Are all the characters in this story related?
There a enough sinister situations, good guys, and victims and suspects to give you a fun read. The atmosphere and color are delightful and really nail the area. I once lived along the water where this story is framed, and the people and places are dead on. Tres is smart and tough. The writing is carefully, thoughtfully pointed at a large number of possible directions so you can never figger it out and are never board.
Those who like quick reads and want all their clues pointed out to them will not like this book. But most mystery readers will love it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Now I'll have to read his others Nov. 10 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
A very good read, though I had trouble at the start, because of the dark and slightly confusing way the book begins. You have to try to piece together what's going on with insufficient info. Try to read it straight through, so you remember the yet to be connected stuff you need.
By about one-third into it, it starts to come together and is amusing, suspensful, and entertaining. The setting in Austin is a bonus to those like me who know some but too little about the area as it is today.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Riordan has hit his stride Oct. 22 2001
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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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Hooked Horns
Author Rick Riordan has again captured the Texan ambiance, this time going to up to Austin from San Antonio to help his parrothead brother, Garrett, out of a "Cheeseburger in... Read more
Published on Oct. 2 2001 by TundraVision
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I Have To Find His Other Books!
It must be nice to burst on the mystery scene and pick up awards right and left for your books, as Rick Riordan has done. Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2001 by Craig Larson
5.0 out of 5 stars Rick Riordan's Back and Better than Ever.....
Tres Navarre, San Antonian private investigator with a PhD in English Lit is, as the saying goes, hip deep in alligators. Read more
Published on Aug. 3 2001 by Roz Levine
5.0 out of 5 stars The Reigning King of Texas Mysteries
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. Read more
Published on July 12 2001 by Kent Braithwaite
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Mess with Texas
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. Read more
Published on June 19 2001 by "edwardn"
5.0 out of 5 stars Should have 6 stars
This is a very well-written novel set in Austin, TX, where I live. Admittedly I am a bit biased on that account. Read more
Published on June 14 2001 by Romeo's mom
5.0 out of 5 stars A very well written and atmospheic mystery
San Antonio resident English professor and private investigator Tres Navarre looks forward to spending six weeks in Austin teaching literature. Read more
Published on June 5 2001 by Harriet Klausner
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