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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 C.

versus
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...
Published on May 10 2004 by Pequegnat


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3.0 out of 5 stars (C+), May 10 2004
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+)
READABILITY: (B+), PLOT: (C-), CHARATERS: (B+), DIALOGUE: (B), SETTING: (A-), ACTION/COMBAT: (C-), ANTAGONISTS: (C-), ROMANCE: (B-),AGE LEVEL: (PG)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Trav McGee Reincarnated, Jan. 20 2003
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful New Series, Oct. 16 2001
By 
Claudia Tanseer (Greensboro, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Solid launch to a terrific series, Oct. 16 2001
By 
Andrew S. Rogers (Houston, Texas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Go Big Red!, Sept. 28 2001
By 
TundraVision (o/~ from the Land of Sky Blue Waters o/~) - See all my reviews
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."
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4.0 out of 5 stars Prodigal returns to Texas, March 27 2001
By 
Carol Peterson Hennekens (Colorado Springs, CO United States) - See all my reviews
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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4.0 out of 5 stars A COLD CORONA, SOME TACO BELL & TRES NAVARRE, July 10 2000
By 
Wayne C. Rogers (Las Vegas, Nevada United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
One of the really great things about the "private eye" genre is that each author picks a particular locale for their main character to live and work in, and the reader, in a sense, gets to visit these areas and see them through the eyes of the author. There's Boston for Spenser, Los Angeles for Elvis Cole, and New York City for Matthew Scudder. Now, in the BIG RED TEQUILA, the first of three novels by Rick Riordan, we have San Antonio for Tres Navarre. In this story, Jackson "Tres" Navarre returns to his home of San Antonio after a long absence. Ten years before, his father, Bexar County Sheriff Jackson Navarre, was murdered outside of their home before his very eyes, gunned down by a shooter in a passing car. Everybody knew that it was a "hit". The question was why? Tres left Texas and his fiancee, Lillian Cambridge, and moved to Berkely, where he got a Ph.D. in English literature, studied Tai Chi Chuan, and learned the fine art of detecting from his new girlfriend, Maia Lee. Years passed, then a sudden phone call from Lillian brings Tres rushing back, hoping to reunite with the person who was once the love of his live, and maybe to solve the murder of his father. It doesn't take Tres long to figure out that hardly anyone is glad to have him back. Lillian's ex-boyfriend, Dan Sheff, sure isn't. Neither are Lillian's parents, nor her business partner, Beau Karnau. Even worst, there's Detective Jay Rivas of the SAPD (a man who hated Sheriff Navarre), coming down hard on Tres from day one, looking for any reason to arrest him and to throw away the key. Then, there's Guy White, a debonair mobster who likes to work in his garden and who is supposedly the man behind the murder. His advice to Tres is simply to return to California before something bad happens to him. Tres, however, is not the type of man to back off. He begins to dig deeper into the death of his father, ignoring the warnings, and soon people are sending thugs to beat him up...to run over him...to shoot him...and to kidnap Lillian in a vain effort to make him stop. That just makes Tres more persistent. One thing leads to another, and he soon discovers a connection between his father and the Sheff Construction Company and payoffs to government officicals. That's when the real questions start coming, because everything is not as it seems. The BIG RED TEQUILA has the usual twist and turns of a well-written novel, and it certainly keeps the reader moving forward in his or her quest to find out who it was that had the good sheriff murdered. Mr. Riordan's style of writing is smooth and refreshing, making it a pure pleasure to read. He offers us a look at the dark side of city life in San Antonio and the nature of big city politics. Tres Navarre, while not as tough as Spenser or as cynical as Matthew Scudder, is still a great character to hang out with for a day of fun and relaxation. I look forward to reading the next two novels in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This Texan loved it!, March 17 2000
By 
K. Barrett "katibar" (Valley Mills, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
What a hoot this was to read. As a Texan, I especially appreciated the "laid back" flavor of this charming and "out there" book. Tres Navarre has enough cowboy in him to be charming and enough intellectual ability to be much more than a cartoonish hero! Imagine a PhD in English who loves cats with peculiar eating habits and spikes his Big Red with good tequila...hard to fathom but tons of fun. Tres gets himself in so much trouble trying to figure out who killed his sheriff-father ten years earlier, but he has a tremendous support system including his aging but gorgeous beatnik mother and his savvy lawyer ex-girlfriend from California. Tres is a complicated man. As soon as I finished this book, I grabbed up The Widower's Two-Step and devoured it as well. Can't wait to read the Last King of Texas. I only noticed a couple of things that didn't ring true, like the mis-spelling of the name of a prominent Texas family from the King Ranch. The Klaybergs referred were actually the Kleburgs, but then maybe Riordan changed the spelling intentionally--don't know--and it doesn't change anything of significance in the story. This was a good read. I recommend Tres Navarre and his friends to everyone with a taste for fun and adventure.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A yuppie's cliched view of the Alamo City, Aug. 6 1998
By A Customer
It's not so much that Rick Riordan gets so much terribly wrong about San Antonio and it's people. It's that he does it in such a cliched and stereotyped manner.
The mystery, plot-heavy and carried along by leaden one-liners and semi-tough-guy talk by the hero, doesn't stretch the imagination much. Particularly when he laces it with Spanish idioms that owe more to Cuba than Mexico.
You can forgive streets that don't truly intersect, "barrios" that are quiet, middle-class neighborhoods and a tour of the city that reads like a tour of those "safe" samplings of San Antonio's Latino heritage favored by the upwardly mobile elite. But to depict Latino characters in such broadbrush caricatures is deplorable.
In Mr. Riordan's San Antonio, barrio bars are all "cantinas." Latino men largely exist to drink heavily, smoke copious amounts of dope and laugh at death. and beat their women. Elderly Mexican-American women are overweight faith healers! . It would have been nice to read about some flesh-and-blood character rather than these cardboard illusions straight out of 1950s Hollywood.
Mr. Riordan has the occassional flash of humor and style that promises something better down the line. But this book is as authentic a view of the light and shadows that haunt San Antonio as the annual event sponsored by predominently Anglo powerbrokers in which the women don festive Mexican-style dresses and everyone shouts "Viva Fiesta!."
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5.0 out of 5 stars written with verve and confidence, July 5 1997
By A Customer
Rick Riordan has written his first book, BIG RED TEQUILA, with the verve and confidence of an experienced author with several successful
mysteries published to his credit. His short, action-filled sentences easily carry the reader along from one suspenseful chapter to the
next without a stumble or loss of interest.
He uses familiar words in unfamiliar association. He creates clear
pictures of the scene and characters involved. He avoids the usual cliches which become so common-place in many mysteries. There is a definite "newness" about his writing.
His Texan use of Spanish is particularly well done and faithfully
reflects the cultural ambience of the City of San Antonio. It gives better definition to memorable personalities without dressing them in masquerade costumes.
I appreciate his handling of sexual encounters. His short comments
like, "back to the satin sheets," give the reader no difficulty in
picturing the activity of the characters without a clinical,
play-by-play account. Nor do I wish to be a voyuer.
His vernacular which may seem a bit profane to some readers like
me (past 75 years), is honest and genuine and will be overheard on most every bi-cultural street in the Southwest. Of greatest importance to me, I enjoyed reading the book. Isn't that its purpose?
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Big Red Tequila
Big Red Tequila by Rick Riordan (Library Binding - June 1997)
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