Friday, July 4, 2014

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 New York Times called The Right Side of Wrong, the third novel in the series, a "sleeper that deserves wider attention."

The newly released fourth novel in the Red River Series is Vengeance is Mine.

Last month I asked Wortham about what he was reading.  His reply:
What am I reading (?)…

…I read the way I write…

…which means multiple processes, and at present, I’m working on three (3) novel manuscripts at the same time, in addition to ongoing weekly newspaper columns and a number of magazine articles for monthly magazines…

…ergo, I’m reading several novels at the same time. They are scattered all over the house, wherever I might sit down for a moment, or on tables in passing. There are two books on my nightstand, three beside my recliner, three here on my desk, and more stacked and bookmarked on my “to read” shelf.

Some people might think it’s hard to keep everything separate, but you don’t have any problem following your weekly television programs, do you, whether it’s the insanity of fake reality TV, or such programs as Longmire, 24, Grey’s Anatomy, or any of the other ongoing stories that you follow without fail.

The book that comes to mind first is Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King. I’ve been a stalwart King fan since Carrie came out in 1974. There is a 4-shelf barrister bookcase in my bedroom, and it’s almost full of his works. The latest cover is occupying its space on one of the shelves while I read the book. I’m a hundred and fifty pages in, and he has my attention once again. Steve always manages to get his hands around my throat on page one, though. I love the links and circles in his novels when he refers to previous characters, places, and plots, and now even tying in to his son Joe Hill’s novels. In fact, a mask of Pennywise the clown has just appeared in a Mr. Mercedes murder car, and this old nemesis reminds me of It, and those novels from long ago.

Another favorite author is Stephen Hunter. At page 144 of Sniper’s Honor, I’m getting a great education on how partisan influence between Germany and Russia helped shape the outcome of the war. While Bob Lee Swagger’s viewpoint has been limited up to this point, I think it’ll accelerate in true Hunter fashion.

Craig Johnson’s Any Other Name is pure joy. Once again, Johnson takes us into a world that most of us will never see, unless you live in Wyoming, and since that’s highly unlikely because the population in that wide open state is the lowest in the U.S. Craig’s books featuring protagonist Walt Longmire have more depth and characterization than the television series, and regularly include characters that have barely been touched upon by the series. I have a personal connection with this book because this story includes a casino in Deadwood, South Dakota, and international hit men. My own new novel, Vengeance is Mine, begins in a Las Vegas casino (circa 1967) and winds up in northeast Texas while Kansas City hit men move in to do the job they do best. The similarities between Any Other Name and my own Vengeance is Mine aren’t perfect, but they made me smile at least, especially since Craig “blurbed” Vengeance and has been a champion of my work while on his own book tour.

Fiction isn’t the only thing I read, though. I just finished a book called, Up To My Armpits, by the late west Texas veterinarian, Dr. Charlie Edwards. I picked this one up to use as research for a new series under construction, but I found myself captivated by the day to day experiences of an old country vet. I doubt this book got a lot of recognition, but it’s invaluable to me in regards to speech, land, people, and ranch situations. I wish I could talk to Dr. Edwards for a while over a cup of strong cowboy coffee. Anything from him would greatly enrich these new books.

In some parts of the U.S., Edward Abbey’s name is as recognizable as that of our own president. Excellent author, curmudgeon, and when he passed, one of the country’s foremost environmentalists, critic of public land policies, and anarchist political views. At one time, one of his favorite activities was to chainsaw billboards to the ground. His groundbreaking Desert Solitaire (1968) pulled people to Arches and Zion National Parks, and at least one of his books, The Brave Cowboy, became a movie starring Kirk Douglas (Lonely Are The Brave).

Sandra Brannan’s Liv Bergen series continues with Noah’s Rainy Day. Sandra found a viewpoint in Noah that only she could explore. Trapped inside a body racked with cerebral palsy, Noah is “blind, unable to speak, and cannot run, walk, or crawl, yet his mind works just as well as any other twelve-year-old’s—maybe even better. And Noah holds a secret dream: to become a great spy, following in the footsteps of his aunt, Liv. Meanwhile, Noah, housebound, becomes wrapped up in identifying the young face he sees watching him from his neighbor’s bedroom window, but he can neither describe nor inscribe what he knows. And his investigation may lead to Noah paying the ultimate price in fulfilling his dreams.” It was fantastic.

Others are already in the queue. I’m especially looking forward to John Gilstrap’s new installment, End Game, featuring Jonathan Grave, a hostage rescue expert. Gilstrap is a New York Times bestselling author, and a great friend. His novels are always roller coaster rides of pure adrenaline, and I’m sure this one will amp up the excitement even more than his previous five installments. It came out on June 24. T. Jefferson Parker’s upcoming release, Full Measure is scheduled to hit the shelves in October. It can’t be anything but great.

This morning I read a dozen pages of my elderly copy of Donald E. Westlake’s Busy Body (1966) because in a Starred Review, Booklist said Vengeance is Mine was reminiscent of both that classic and The Fugitive Pigeon (1966). So now I’m back into Westlake heaven. I’m also in the middle of Jon Land’s Strong Enough to Die, Mark Gimenez’s Perk, Stuart Kaminsky’s Leberman’s Law, and Pat Conroy’s Death of Santini.

So here’s my dilemma. When I’m writing, I wish I was reading. When I have a book in my hands, I feel guilty, because my own characters are calling. I guess the happy medium is that I seem to be doing it all at the same time. Will this juggling act be a continuing success? I’ll get back to you on that.
Learn more about the book and author at Reavis Z. Wortham's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Rock Hole.

My Book, The Movie: The Rock Hole.

The Page 69 Test: Burrows.

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

The Page 69 Test: The Right Side of Wrong.

--Marshal Zeringue