Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reavis Z. Wortham

Reavis Z. Wortham is the author of The Rock Hole, hailed by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Top 12 Mystery Novels of 2011. A finalist for the Benjamin Franklin Award, the second novel in this Red River Series, Burrows, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

The newly released third novel in the Red River Series is The Right Side of Wrong.

A couple of weeks ago I asked Wortham about what he was reading.  His reply:
I’m a voracious reader, in fact, I believe I’m truly addicted to books. That’s a problem when you’re a writer. I want to read when I’m writing, but when reading, I feel guilty I’m not writing, at infinitum.

I average three to four books a week, despite my writing schedule. Here are the most recent, and a few thoughts.

Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell. He’s one of the authors who truly inspired me to write, along with Robert Ruark, Keith Roberson, William C. Anderson, and Jules Verne. Eclectic. David is one of those authors with the ability to instantly catch a reader’s attention and hold them throughout the entire novel. Morrell suspenseful mystery takes us back to the real Ratcliffe Highway murders that occurred in London during the mid-1800s. The father of Rambo weaves this account in a Victorian fog of conversation and detail that rings true to life. He is truly a master writer.

On occasion, I’ll find that rare book that makes me read the last sentence, and then immediately go right back to the beginning to read it again. In fact, that’s only happened three times. The first was when I was a kid and read The Old Man and The Boy by Robert Ruark. The second time was Tim Dorsey’s Florida Roadkill (what a ride!).

The third is Edge of Dark Water, by Joe Lansdale. I was talking with Joe a while back and told him that book should have been nominated for a Pulitzer. I love period, or historical novels, and this east Texas coming of age novel has been compared to Huckleberry Finn. During the Great Depression, a teenage girl who once dreamed of a Hollywood career is found murdered in the Sabine River. Her young friends Sue Ellen, Jinx, Terry set out on a raft to spread her ashes in Hollywood, but they are pursued by a number of ill-tempered characters intent on getting back some money stolen by the dead girl’s brother. This was one of those novels that should have gone on to the thickness of Lonesome Dove. Oh, and my first novel The Rock Hole was compared to Joe’s work, so how could I pass this one up?

I stumbled across The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey. I’d never heard of him before (sorry Rick), but his apocalyptic novel quickly caught my attention. I’m an old fan of these “end of the world” works, beginning with Pat Frank’s Alas Babylon, which I also read in junior high. The Earth’s last survivors struggle to resist the fifth wave of attacks by aliens who have figured out a way to turn everyone against themselves. Yancy kept my attention, without zombies, vampires, or mutants. Give it a shot.

Dean Koontz and Stephen King have been my go-to guys since I first discovered their original works, when those works were original. Deeply Odd, the newest in Koontz’s Odd Thomas series once again felt familiar and comfortable. This mind-twister pits Odd Thomas against a crime that hasn’t happened yet, and he is forced to chase down a homicidal stranger who will kill three people if Odd and the spirit of Alfred Hitchcock can’t combine their odd talents to stop him.

And finally, (I could go on and on and on), Stephen Hunter once again fascinates me with his plots. In The Third Bullet, Hunter brings back Bob Lee Swagger. Moviegoers will know his work from Shooter, starring Mark Wahlberg. The books are infinitely better. This time Hunter looks back at an old story, the granddaddy of all conspiracy theories. Using facts from the Warren Commission and his own extensive knowledge of ballistics, Swagger constructs a complicated but plausible theory a third assassin, and the group that used Oswald as the fall guy. There are hundreds of conspiracy novels out there, but this one rings true. Was there a third shooter?

Joe Pickett continues to work as a game warden in C.J. Box’s latest Pickett novel, Breaking Point. Mix in the Wyoming mountains, elk hunters gone rogue, murder, the EPA, the EPA using drones to kill the elk hunter gone rogue in the mountains, and an incredibly exciting escape from a wildfire down a fast, deadly river, and you have one of the best thrillers of the year.

With space as a premium, here’s a brief list from the past month, both current and older books, fiction and nonfiction: Man in the Blue Moon, Michael Morris; Inner Circle, Brad Melzer; The Innocent, Taylor Stevens; Damage Control, John Gilstrap; Captured (2004), Scott Zesch; Night Moves, Randy Wayne White; All the Earth Thrown to the Sky, Joe Lansdale; A Serpent’s Tooth, Craig Johnson; Purification Ceremony (1997), Mark Sullivan; NOS4A2, Joe Hill; The Tamarack Murders, Patrick F. McManus.
Visit Reavis Z. Wortham's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Reavis Z. Wortham and Willie.

The Page 69 Test: The Right Side of Wrong.

--Marshal Zeringue