5.0 out of 5 stars Trav McGee Reincarnated
For those of you who love the John D. McDonald books starring Travis McGee, let me introduce you to Tres Navarre! The hero of Riordan's first book in the series, Tres reminds me of a young Trav McGee. He has a bit of dark edge to his character (he's lived a lot!), and his smart mouth gets him into trouble, but he's a decent, intelligent man who wants to find the truth and...
Published on Jan. 20 2003 by Robin Currier
3.0 out of 5 stars Moderate Adult Mystery from "Percy Jackson" Author
I've been a fan of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series since it began, so when I learned that prior to turning to YA novels, he had written a series of Texas private eye mysteries, I thought I'd give them a try. "Big Red Tequila" is the first in that series, featuring Jackson "Tres" Navarre, the son of Jackson Navarre Jr. who, ten years before the story...
Published 16 months ago by Alison S. Coad
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3.0 out of 5 stars Moderate Adult Mystery from "Percy Jackson" Author,
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I've been a fan of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series since it began, so when I learned that prior to turning to YA novels, he had written a series of Texas private eye mysteries, I thought I'd give them a try. "Big Red Tequila" is the first in that series, featuring Jackson "Tres" Navarre, the son of Jackson Navarre Jr. who, ten years before the story begins, had been gunned down in front of his son and friend while returning home from his Sheriff's job in San Antonio. Tres fled to San Francisco and remained there for 10 years, learning tai chi and earning a Ph.D. in English literature, supporting himself with investigative work for a law office, among other things; but when his old flame Lillian contacts him, he returns to his native city in part to perhaps rekindle his old relationship and in part to finally work out who killed his father and why. But the answers are far from simple to find, and there are far more people willing to kill rather than let him discover the truth.... As with the YA books, this adult novel is full of memorable characters and high-energy action scenes, although neither are as refined as they become in Riordan's later work. I enjoyed the murky underworld of San Antonio and some of the individuals were well worth getting to know, but I'm not as enamoured of Texas as the author might like his readers to be. I would read more in the series if I stumbled across them, but wouldn't really go out of my way to find them; so, a lukewarm response from me.
3.0 out of 5 stars (C+),
This is a moderately entertaining mystery, the story is well paced, the dialogue is clever, and the setting has vivid color and depth. The weaknesses are in the uninspired plot, the unlikable and weird characters, and their highly unconvincing motivations (except for the cat, which is by far the most enjoyable character).
We are supposed too believe in the main character who has a PhD in English from Berkley, is an unlicensed private investigator, and a Tie Chi master. He's also broke, drunk, slovenly, mentally unstable, anti-social, and not to bright. But he has a nice cat. The supporting characters are even less believable for the most part, and just as mentally unbalanced, particularly his mother.
Also the Law Enforcement aspects to the novel are particularly weak, as a former Lawman I was not impressed.
OVERALL SCORE: (C+)
2.0 out of 5 stars It can't be this easy to win an Edgar!,
Aside from the cat, there's not an original thing about Tres Navarre. Too many characters, too much plot, too little action. I didn't care if he found the girl or not,if he found his fathers killers or not. I just finished the thing and I still don't understand why these people did half the things they did. If the ending was suppossed to make me gasp, it made me yawn instead. Tres keep visiting the same people over and over again and comes away emptyhanded. If it's this easy to win mystery awards I might start writing my own. In the meantime I'll stick with, Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais, Robert Parker etc.
5.0 out of 5 stars Trav McGee Reincarnated,
For those of you who love the John D. McDonald books starring Travis McGee, let me introduce you to Tres Navarre! The hero of Riordan's first book in the series, Tres reminds me of a young Trav McGee. He has a bit of dark edge to his character (he's lived a lot!), and his smart mouth gets him into trouble, but he's a decent, intelligent man who wants to find the truth and protect the innocent. In that way, he also reminds me of Dave Robichaux in the James Lee Burke Novels. Like McDonald and Burke, Riordan does a great job at presenting a particular culture and location, in this case San Antonio, Texas, and in developing very three-dimensional characters. I can highly recommend this book.
In this debut novel, Tres returns to San Antonio after having fled ten years previously after the murder of his father. He returns to wrestle with his past and to find the truth behind his father's death. In the process, he uncovers a conspiracy that involves families he's known all his life, forcing him to weigh love, loyalty, and compassion against the truth.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good effort, entertaining read.,
Riordan's debut of his series character, Tres Navarre, is a competent mystery written with evocative Texas imagery and a good sense of humor. It remains entertaining throughout- good dialogue, interesting characters, enough violence to be satisfying but not enough to push gratuitous.
The novel's weakness is its complexity. For a lighthearted mystery, a perfectly good genre into which this book should easily fall, there are too many characters to keep track of, and Riordan does not give the reader quite enough reminder/clues to keep it cohesive. Only this prevents it from being a great travel companion.
I look forward to the rest of the series.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful New Series,
Okay, never mind that I'm a native, although displaced, Texan. (Never mind too that I agree with Riordan there's something majestic about the wide open spaces marked by not much more than dirt, rocks, and scrub because at night the enormous sky that envelops this same desert from horizon to horizon is marked by more stars than you ever believed could exist in this universe and because anyone who has ever seen this same sky painted in reds and golds and oranges and lavenders and deep purples can't believe they're still on our planet!) I just love the Texas and the San Antonio that is brought to life in the Tres Navarre series!
Riordan's plots are complicated enough and sharp enough to please the reader that likes to keep guessing right up to the end about what's really happening in the story. And Riordan is a natural at the surprise ending -- and a convincing surprise ending at that!)
But for those of us who welcome a new group of characters that we can tell are interesting enough, complex enough, intriguing enough and funny enough to last us through many, many more books to come -- that's the most rewarding gift of all.
The hero is just the right kind of funny, self-effacing fellow who never comes off as pompous; never tries to be the superior, wise-cracking, smug, know-it-all detective who spends most of the story showing the reader just how verbal he is compared to the moronic bad guys (so, who cares? By the end of these books, the hero's ego has taken over every scene to the extent that you start cheering for the other side!)
Tres is caring, sensitive, etc. without being schmaltzy about it. His machoism is largely confined to an intelligent appreciation of eastern philosophy and the practice of the kind of martial arts that demand incredible discipline and, above all, humility.
And some of my favorites are the little gems he drops (at least in the two books I've read so far) when he addresses either inanimate objects ( e.g., he beseeches his bright orange VW, that is standing there beside him in a pasture when he's trying to surreptitiously tail someone, to "Think cow....") or addresses otherwise somewhat indifferent animals that happen to be nearby (e.g. as when-- in another pasture, this time with a real cow standing there -- as he gets ready to sneak up on the villains and he turns to the cow and says, "Cover me..." Now you know Tres doesn't really count on these other sources for realistic help. But Riordan gives you the feeling that--with his laid back, eastern style perspective on things -- Tres isn't averse to accepting whatever extra help the universe might be willing to offer.
If you've had it with detective stories in which nothing is really going on for 3/4 of the story as the detective futilely searches for clues in a no-nonsense, professional style--forcing you to read the entire book only to make sure that something eventually happens in it--you'll love the Tres Navarre series. The characters and subplots are so entertaining that the complex plot with the surprise ending is just icing on the cake.
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid launch to a terrific series,
Ten years ago, Jackson 'Tres' Navarre left San Antonio to escape the memories and burdens of his sheriff father's murder, which he witnessed. Now, he's come back home, hoping to answer the lingering questions once and for all. But then his former girlfriend mysteriously disappears, his other former girlfriend shows up to help in the search, and the police aren't interested in turning over old stones. Even Robert Johnson, Tres' taco-eating cat, is acting strangely.
This is the first book in Rick Riordan's Tres Navarre series, and it's not only a great story in its own right, but a strong lead off for what's proven to be a high-quality and exciting series. Riordan's plots can be tangled -- lots of plot twists, and characters with complex motivations -- but this is evidence of the high quality of the writing: Riordan proves he can handle both complexity and cohesiveness. Nevertheless, this book repays a second read.
'Big Red Tequila' is filled with San Antonio atmosphere, and while it helps a little for the reader to know the city, that's not essential to understanding and enjoying the story. Personally, I find myself with a margarita-and-tortillas craving every time I read a Tres Navarre book. But then, I'm a Texan by birth. Not everyone has that advantage, so maybe not everyone will respond the same way.
What I *can* say is that I've read three of the four Tres Navarre books currently in print, and am working on the fourth now. I didn't read them in order, so I can attest that each title stands alone as an exciting and rewarding mystery novel. I didn't get drawn into this one as quickly as I did 'The Last King of Texas' (the third title in the series), but the mystery and the character development moves quickly. If you're looking for a powerfully done series with sympathetic and engaging characters, rich atmospheric detail, and 'a plot that keeps you guessing,' I strongly recommend starting here.
5.0 out of 5 stars Go Big Red!,
This is the first book in Rick Riordan's Tres Navarre series. Riordan teaches middle school English for his "day job." (Which the success of the series may allow him to quit, but for the kids' sake, I hope he doesn't. And I hope he keeps these books comin` too!) Tres (Jackson Navarre III - get it?) has a Ph. D in, and teaches college, English (More on that later.)
This is a fun escape to the Alamo City and its environs, peppered with a healthy helping of dry Texas wit. Try these:
" Dan seemed about as aware of his surroundings as a dug-in armadillo.
We met Grubb outside the Dairy Queen, a place he had obviously frequented over the years. His white hair had a slightly greasy tinge to it, and his upper body, once that of a football player, had swollen up over his belt buckle until it bore an uncanny resemblance to a Dilly Bar.
Take away the glitz and the tourist dollars and the Paseo del Rio is basically a deep trench that winds through the center of downtown San Antonio. ... Put back the glitz and the tourist dollars, and even a native has to admit it's pretty impressive. ... Tourists with cameras and souvenir sombreros, basic trainees on leave, rich men with high-priced call girls, all happily stepping on toes and spilling drinks on each other. This is what a San Antonian thinks of when you say "river." I remember how much trouble I had reading Huck Finn as a child, trying to imagine how the hell that raft made it past all those restaurants and crowds, in water only three feet deep and thirty feet across, without anybody noticing the stowaway slave. Maybe that's why I became an English major - sheer confusion."
5.0 out of 5 stars Big, read, and intoxicating.,
It's a big book...lots of pages, lots of characters, and lots of Texas lore and description. Lots of action, too...fights and bullets and druggings and cracked bones and teeth. And a complicated plot, with motives tripping all over each other.
Like the setting, this novel is so big it's almost overwhelming. So here's how you read it: one beautifully constructed sentence at a time! Go slow, savor the descriptions and the characters and the twisty plots.
It's a big book, and a fine one. I recommend it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Prodigal returns to Texas,
Fans of Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar series are likely to find another quasi-hero to root for in the Tres Navarre series. They are both late twentysomething white guys who can't quite shed their family and roots. The locations are different but both are players in the plots.
Normally I don't care for Texas settings in novel (it's a Colorado thing) but this one works. Much of that has to do with Navarre's having spent ten years in the Bay Area (where the writer, Riordan, a Texas native, lives). It's a nice mixture of cravings for Peet's coffee while drinking Big Red soda cut with tequila. Navarre is a pretty likeable guy - and is the first guy shamus with a cat that I can recall.
The mystery is only worth three stars as it is a bit muddled and has a few too many players. Still, a fun read and I'm looking forward to the second book in the series, The Widower's Two Step. It should also be noted that the book won Anthony and Shamus awards as well as making the Washington Post year-end list.
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