The Devil Went Down to Austin Mass Market Paperback – Jun 25 2002
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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. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
But I didn't enjoy this one as much as the previous installments, and there are several reasons. I was out of my depth on the SCUBA stuff. I found the E-Mails throughout the book to be disconcerting, thinking: Besides the text, what am I supposed to be looking at? The sender? The addressee? The mailing list?
SEMI-SPOILER: If you haven't read the book yet, stop reading this review NOW. I was also confused about Jimmy's aunt's name: Faye Doebler-Ingram. I thought maybe it would turn out to be of major import, but, in the end, it is mere error. Faye is Clara's sister. Clara married into the Doebbler family and name. Faye, on the other hand, is referred to as a spinster and tells us "I never married." So, she would not have her sister's married name as part of her own. Riordan & his editors might have wasted away on one too many margaritas?
Anyway, it's a fun book and well worth a read.
Riordan's PI, Tres Navarre, somewhat reluctantly gets involved when his older brother, Garrett, becomes suspect number one in the murder of his old friend and business partner in a computer start-up, Jimmy Doebler. Neither Jimmy or Garrett, both skilled programmers, has much in the way of business acumen, and it appears that perhaps there's a sinister scheme underway to undermine their product, a potentially lucrative security system, and get them to sell for peanuts. Tres, sho normally works out of a home base in San Antonio, has been hired to teach a summer school course in British literature at the university, so it is his proximity, in part, which draws him into the investigation. There are also unexplored feelings of guilt regarding his brother and an accident in the past which took Garrett's legs.
There are some excellent things here: very clear, vivid descriptions of scuba diving; a very frightening, psychopathic killer, whose true identity is continually misdirected; and family infighting among the Doebler clan. Tres is a vivid creation, as are his brother, his old girlfriend, Maia Lee, and the local policeman, Victor Lopez. I had a great time with this book and am eagerly looking forward to reading the others in this series. Receives my strongest recommendation!
Most recent customer reviews
Rick Riordan's 'The Devil Went Down to Austin' is a fun little murder mystery, starring PI-cum-lit-prof Tres Nevarre. Read morePublished on Feb. 25 2003 by Craig Wood
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. Read morePublished on Aug. 20 2002 by D. P. Birkett
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. Read morePublished on July 23 2002 by Ron Uselton
A very good read, though I had trouble at the start, because of the dark and slightly confusing way the book begins. Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2001
Tres Navarre, San Antonian private investigator with a PhD in English Lit is, as the saying goes, hip deep in alligators. Read morePublished on Aug. 3 2001 by Roz Levine
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 morePublished on July 11 2001 by Kent Braithwaite
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 morePublished on June 19 2001
This is a very well-written novel set in Austin, TX, where I live. Admittedly I am a bit biased on that account. Read morePublished on June 14 2001 by Romeo's mom