The Last King of Texas Paperback – Apr 3 2001
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For his first two novels featuring PI Tres Navarre, Rick Riordan garnered the Anthony, Shamus, and Edgar Awards--a trio that few seasoned Mystery careerists can claim. In this third, equally entertaining installment, Riordan casts Navarre according to the other piece of his quirky skill set: his Ph.D. in English literature from UC Berkeley.
While the worst-case scenario envisioned by most professors at the University of Texas at San Antonio probably involves lost essays or a failed tenure bid, recently the medievalists at UTSA have wound up deader than their favorite language. At first, the deaths seemed like accidents. Dr. Theodore Haimer was forced to take an early retirement when his remarks about "the damn coddled Mexicans at UTSA" found their way into the Express-News. Shortly thereafter, the old man was discovered deceased, his head in a bowl of Apple Jacks, the result of an apparent heart attack. His successor, the young Dr. Aaron Brandon, continued to receive the vituperation and death threats that had followed his predecessor to the grave. Then, halfway into the semester, Brandon was also found dead--murdered. Now, Tres Nevarre is the only man crazy enough to fill the vacant chair of Chaucer studies and murder avoidance at the amiable institution. His first day on the job is the clincher: an exploding package leaves him both scarred and excited for the only academic job he's ever found that rivals Indiana Jones's.
Riordan's style blends the hipness of Elmore Leonard with the sardonic humor of Janet Evanovich. And like Evanovich, Riordan draws on the colorful character of his locale--in his case the twangy chili con carnage of San Antonio academic life--to pepper his narrative with a mixture of medieval literature, Tex-Mex dialogue, and Sherlock Holmesian puzzles. While there aren't many more awards for Riordan to conquer, The Last King of Texas will certainly win him some more loyal fans. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In a terrific sequel to The Widower's Two-Step, which won the 1999 Edgar for Best Original Paperback, the third Tres Navarre mystery finds the academic-turned-PI reluctant to accept a chair in medieval studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio, a chair whose last two tenants have met with violent deaths. But when a bomb goes off in the dean's office nearly killing him and two others, he instantly accepts the assignment. Tres quickly finds out that the second victim's father, Jeremiah Brandon, a ruthless amusement-park ride manufacturer known as the "King of the Carnivals," was also murdered years before. The prime suspect then was Jeremiah's former employee, gang member Zeta Sanchez, who believed that the predatory Jeremiah was sleeping with his wife, but Sanchez was never apprehended. Suddenly it is reported that, after years on the run (and in a Mexican jail), he has been spotted in the region. Tagging along with the San Antonio police, Tres finds himself in the middle of a violent shoot-out during which Sanchez is arrested; now he is also the number one suspect in the murder of Jeremiah's son. Not surprisingly, Sanchez vigorously protests his innocence. All this happens in just the first 40 pages of this fast-paced and highly entertaining novel, as Tres finds himself drawn into the complex vortex of the Brandon family's ugly past. With the help of beautiful yet tough homicide detective Ana DeLeon (a potential romantic interest) and other, less than savory, friends from the wrong side of the law, the wisecracking Tres untangles an intricate web of murderous family rivalries, missing persons and heroin traffic--all the while evoking with bright color the interplay of San Antonio's Latino and Anglo cultures and the joys of Tex-Mex cuisine. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This novel has Tres taking a professorship with University of Texas, San Antonio. He's to protect himself from becoming the third professor in the position that dies and to help the detective agency he works for to find the killer of the other two.
I liked the characters I was supposed to like and disliked the characters I was supposed to dislike. I was suitably confused about who the real bad guy was till the end of the book. I like the way the author writes about San Antonio.
One thing Rick Riordan needs to work on is his gun lore, although it wouldn't surprise me if the author considered himself above guns. For me it was like finger nails on the blackboard when he talks about "silenced .357 semi-auto handguns" or "mercury filled .45 slugs leaving pock marks" in the stone around a fireplace or "a high powered Mossberg over and under."
The .357 caliber is typically used in revolvers and it wouldn't be a good choice for use with a silencer because the bullet itself travels over the speed of sound and makes its own little sonic boom after it leaves the firearm. The mercury filled .45 might be a direct steal from Day of the Jackal but even if it isn't the point of the mercury would be to cause a tremendous amount of expansion of the bullet when it hit something. It shouldn't penetrate the victim and still have enough force to scar the brickwork around the fireplace. It should expend all of its energy in the victim. Finally the high powered Mossberg over and under would read much cleaner if it had been referred to as a Mossberg pump.Read more ›
I particularly did not care for Riordan's attempted "put downs" of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, which is a sister institution to the University of Texas at San Antonio. The immediate deceased, Aaron Brandon, had been employed for six years at UTPB before moving to UTSA a few months before. UTPB is smeared in comparison with UTSA as one known among academia as the University of Texas of the "Permanent Basement." The characters' dialogue does not ring true when the widow talks about their years spent at "Permian Basin." No one talks that way in real life. The school is referred to by locals as simply UTPB and people either live in Midland or Odessa or other area towns, but not at "Permian Basin."
The plot was somewhat cumbersome and I certainly hope for a better effort by Riordan in his latest, Devil Went Down to Austin.
As an author, Riordan is a long way from the quality of Michael Connelly, Lawrence Block, or Michael McGarrity but I will continue to read nevertheless.
Some of my family is in San Antonio, and it's where I went to school, so I found the setting of 'The Last King of Texas' very easy to embrace and understand. Riordan tosses out the names of local streets, landmarks, events, and personalities with an ease that may cause people unfamiliar with San Antonio a little confusion. But that shouldn't distract too much from this well crafted murder mystery.
The story itself is fast paced, and while there is a lot of fightin' and shootin' going on, the scenes are not disturbingly graphic. In fact, one of my main complaints with the story is that our P.I., Tres Navarre, sometimes seemed to have the superhuman qualities of a kung fu movie hero, able to single-handedly dispatch masses of bad guys with his lightning-fast moves. That slight unbelievability, however, did not extend into the story itself -- which, through all its twists and turns, remained believable and true to life. The solution to the mystery did not suggest itself too early, and was ultimately a satisfying payoff. Navarre himself is an attractive and likeable figure, and most of the other major characters, good and evil, were fully drawn.
Mark Twain famously called San Antonio 'one of America's four unique cities.' For anyone familiar with San Antonio, this novel will be an entertaining trip back.Read more ›
The head of the Brandon murder investigation, San Antonio police detective Ana DeLeon, demands that Tres do no sleuthing. The police think Aaron's murder is personal and tied to the killing of his father several years ago. Tres, PI boss Erainya Manos also wants him to stay out of the investigation. The university has hired her agency to look into the threatening letters. She wants Tres to teach while another of her operatives, George Berton, uncover the facts. Tres may know his English literature well enough to teach three classes, but he also cannot stay on the sidelines, especially since he potentially could be victim number three.
The third Tres Navarre mystery is an entertaining tale that provides insight into the lead protagonist and several of the repeat supporting cast. The enjoyable story line is filled with action and colorful characters that provide insight into San Antonio. The subplots nicely tie back to the main story line. As with his two previous Navarre novels (see BIG RED TEQUILLA and THE WIDOWER'S TWO-STEP) Rick Riordan writes an enjoyable novel that provides readers with much pleasure.
Most recent customer reviews
I enjoyed this book. I am a huge fan of mysteries, especially mysteries like this one. Rick Riordan is a fine story teller, and he captures the multicultural aspects of... Read morePublished on Sept. 24 2001 by Margarita Sanchez
This was my first Rick Riordan/Tres Navarre book and an enticement for the rest of the series. It has vivid characterizations. Read morePublished on July 17 2001 by TundraBee
I first read "The Widower's Two-Step" and was a little familiar with some of the characters. Read morePublished on July 14 2001 by Fran
I've read Rick Riordan's novels, and I was most anxious for the arrival of this one. Like it's predecessors, it's good--witty, self-deprecating, ironic, bright. Read morePublished on April 28 2001 by Judith Lindenau
Among the rest of the glowing reviews for Rick Riordan, I must be the in the definite minority--I just cannot get into his style. Read morePublished on Sept. 15 2000
This is the first Rick Riordan book I've read and I look forward to reading his previous 'Tres Nevarre' novels. I liken Riordan's style to that of a Texan Carl Hiaasen. Read morePublished on Aug. 14 2000 by M. Cox
Excellently written and crafted, The Last King of Texas will keep you turning pages even if you're not from the Lone Star state. Read morePublished on July 6 2000 by B A Schwartz
If not the king of Texas crime-writing, Rick Riordan is certainly among the princes in a royal family that already includes James Lee Burke and David Lindsey. Read morePublished on May 20 2000 by Ron Franscell, Author of 'Morgue: A Life in Death'
Rick Riordan does it again. Another fast-pace, edge of the seat mystery starring Tres Navarre...hunk of a P.I. who makes Spenser looks tame. Read morePublished on April 25 2000 by Roz Levine