Big Red Tequila

Rick Riordan, Author Bantam $7.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-553-57644-3
It's not the plot that makes this a stand-out--Tres Navarre is a loner returning to his hometown to investigate and avenge an unsolved murder that he witnessed a decade before. And the supporting characters look pretty familiar--a crooked construction company, corrupt cops, old enemies who resent Tres poking around. What makes this a truly worthy debut is Riordan's voice. Hard to escape calling it hard-boiled Tex-Mex, but that's what it is. The dialogue is terse and the long first-person descriptions show an unbeatable flair for detail: ""We pulled into a gravel lot outside the world's smallest outdoor cantina. Three green picnic tables squatted on a red concrete slab. In the back, a stack of fruit crates and an old Coca-Cola cooler passed for the bar. The whole place was ringed by a low cinder-block wall and covered by sagging corrugated tin, strung with the obligatory Christmas lights. Nobody had bothered to put up a sign for the cantina. It just naturally radiated conjunto music and the promise of cold beer."" You can almost feel the summer storms rolling over south Texas. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/02/1997
Release date: 06/01/1997
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