Books

Unraveled by Reavis Z. WorthamUnraveled (Poisoned Pen Press, October 2016)

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The small, rural Northeast Texas community of Center Springs has seen its share of troubles during the 1960s, everything from kidnapping, murder, and bank robbery. By 1968, the residents think life has finally quieted down, but they find their peaceful way of life is quickly spinning out of control as a decades-long family feud between the Clays and Mayfields once again flares to life.

Fourteen-year-old Top Parker, who lives with his grandparents Constable Ned Parker and Miss Becky in a little farmhouse near the Red River, finds himself caught up in another adult situation sparked by a mysterious fatal single car accident involving the white mayor of Chisum and his black female assistant. Questions and accusations arise about their relationship as the families wreak vengeance on each other.

But what is the significance of a man calling himself the Wraith, who moves through region at will, invading homes and watching the Parkers? What is Maggie Clay’s secret? That she’s half white and married to a black man with a long criminal past? And was Mayor Frank Clay, the only bright spot in a dark and cruel family, really what everything thinks he is?

It’s a busy time for Sheriff Cody Parker, who finds himself a possible suspect in the murder of several residents. He takes the advice from his Deputy John Washington and removes himself from the investigation, giving free reign to both John and Deputy Anna Sloan as they try and unravel the answers by following different paths.

The ending will leave you staggering as the families clash on a small battlefield and the killer is finally revealed in a most unexpected way. These aren’t the 1960s that most Baby Boomers remember.

 

Dark Places by Reavis Z. WorthamDark Places (Poisoned Pen Press, September 2015)

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At the tail end of 1967, the Parker family once again finds it’s impossible to hide from a world spinning out of control. On the Red River in Center Springs, Texas, fourteen-year-old Top still can’t fit in with their rural community, or forget recent, vicious crimes. His near-twin cousin, Pepper, desperate escape her own demons, rashly joins the Flower Children flocking to California while...

...at the same time, two businessmen are kidnapped and murdered in the Red River bottoms on the same night as a deadly hit and run kills a local farmer. Constable Ned Parker wonders if these crimes are connected, but he goes after Pepper, leaving the investigation in the hands of Sheriff Cody Parker who...

...hires a Deputy Anna Sloan, an investigator with an eye toward detail, but it seems that everyone in town is eyeing her. Yet it’s instinct that propels her after killers through a world nearly forgotten, in a backdrop of continuous rain, gloomy skies, and floods. When she’s ambushed, the investigation accelerates into gunfire, chases, and hair-raising suspense. Meantime...

...what of Pepper? Out on Route 66 to California, the Mother Road to California, a man named Crow isn’t what he seems. Lies, deceptions, and a band of outlaw motorcyclists  proves to the Parkers that no matter where you turn, no matter what you do, the world is full of such darkness that even grandmothers are capable of unspeakable deeds.

"Reavis Z. Wortham is the real thing: a literary voice that's gut-bucket Americana delivered with a warm and knowing Texas twang."
—C.J. Box, New York Times Bestselling Author of Endangered

"With each new book, Reavis Wortham again proves that his is one of the most engaging voices to hit the bookshelves in years. Dark Places takes us exactly there: the darkest corners of society and of the soul; but Wortham shows so much heart and delivers so much suspense that readers will happily accompany him every step of the way. A top-notch read!"
—John Gilstrap, author of the Jonathan Grave thriller series

"This’s one helluva book! The story lines in Dark Places grab you from the git-go and simply don't let go. Populated with richly drawn characters, good and (deliciously) evil, and propelled by some of the best dialogue you’ll find in thriller writing today, the novel delivers on all levels. Think: Elmore Leonard meets James Lee Burke. A true winner!"
—Jeffery Deaver, International Bestselling Author

 

Vengeance Is Mine by Reavis Z. WorthamVengeance Is Mine (Poisoned Pen Press, July 2014)

Listed as one of the Top 5 Modern Westerns by True West Magazine

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In October of 1967, The Summer of Love is history, rock and roll is dark and revolutionary, and people in the small east Texas community of Center Springs simply want to live their lives as quietly as possible. But a handsome darkness in the form of Las Vegas gangster Anthony Agrioli has left the business to hide out in the tiny backwater settlement with his blond bombshell girlfriend.

Two years earlier, Agrioli met newlyweds Cody and Norma Faye Parker in a Vegas casino and heard their enthusiastic descriptions of the perfect place to settle down and raise a family. At least it was perfect, before their peaceful world found itself directly in the crosshairs of a coming confrontation.

Back in Center Springs, thirteen-year-old Top Parker has what his grandmother, Miss Becky, calls a Poisoned Gift. His dreams, though random and disconnected, always seem to come true. This time Top dreams he’s a wagon hub with spokes converging from all directions. To him, the spokes symbolize that something is coming, but he doesn’t know their quiet community will soon be a combat zone when the gangsters arrive, but they’re after something else and not Agrioli... yet.

A sheriff crooked as a dog’s hind leg, an unsolved murder in the river bottoms, counterfeit money and a bank robbery all wrapped in a country Shakespearian comedy once again brings together Constable Ned Parker, Constable Cody Parker, Deputy John Washington, Judge O.C. Rains, and the rest of Wortham’s real and sometimes wacky cast of characters.

"A satisfying read... the pleasure comes from snappy but believable dialogue, complex character interaction, and an elaborate and carefully constructed plot. Full of twists, confrontations, and quirky reflections."
Southern Literary Review

"Wortham is a masterful and entertaining storyteller. Set in East Texas in 1967, Vengeance is Mine is equal parts Joe R. Lansdale and Harper Lee, with a touch of Elmore Leonard."
Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

"Very entertaining... Those who have read the author’s earlier books, including The Right Side of Wrong (2013), will be familiar with Center Springs and its rather unusual denizens, but knowledge of those earlier volumes is not required. This is a fully self-contained story, and it’s a real corker."
Booklist (starred review)

Listed as number one of the Top Five Texas Authors of 2014. "Wortham’s Central Springs lawmen and their families deal with violent actions and their consequences when a mob hitman moves into their town. Works as an engaging shoot up as well as a meditation on retribution."
MysteryPeople

"Reavis Wortham doubles down in Vengeance is Mine, the fourth in his Red River Series, and for mystery readers it’s a Full House when Las Vegas intrigue invades Center Springs, Texas. Aces High, Constables Ned, Cody Parker and company are terrific riding and reading partners."
—Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries, the basis for A&E’s hit series "Longmire"

"Reavis Z. Wortham's Vengeance is Mine is a winning and unusual book. Equal parts small-town tale and thriller, the combination is both entertaining and emotionally engaging. Wortham is at his best in the small Texas town of Center Springs, where this and his three other Red River Mysteries are set. The small-town characters carry the day but Wortham hits his thriller marks too, and the result is a solid and humane story."
—T. Jefferson Parker, New York Times bestselling author of The Famous and the Dead

"One part suspense story and one part coming of age novel, Vengeance Is Mine is all parts entertaining. With crackling dialogue and colorful descriptions, Reavis Wortham makes rural Texas of the 1960s roar to life. Vengeance Is Mine is a page turning novel with multi-layered characters and plot twists that will leave the reader guessing until the very end. It is not to be missed."
—Michael Morris, author of Man in the Blue Moon

"Reavis Wortham is the new voice to be reckoned with in suspense fiction. His sense of place and character is second to none. Clear the calendar after you open the cover of Vengeance Is Mine, because ain't nothin' else gonna get done once you start reading."
—John Gilstrap, Author of End Game and the rest of the Jonathan Grave thriller series

Fast-paced, darkly comic, and leavened with bursts of shocking violence.”
Texas Books in Review

"This is a well-crafted, atmospheric crime novel full of surprises that’s tough to put down; some of the intriguing characters will linger long after the last page is turned."
Lansing State Journal

"The residents of Center Springs and its surrounding environs shine in Wortham’s exceptional dark comedy laced with violence and greed."
RT Book Reviews

 

The Right Side of Wrong by Reavis Z. WorthamThe Right Side of Wrong (Poisoned Pen Press, July 2013)

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Burrows ended as 1965 drew to a close with Constable Cody Parker's frightening precognition of gathering storm clouds for the tight-knit Parker family from Center Springs, Texas. The dreams proved accurate. Cody is ambushed and nearly killed on a lonely country road during an unusually heavy snowfall. With that attack, the locals begin to worry that The Skinner, from The Rock Hole, has returned.

Constable Ned Parker struggles to connect a seemingly unrelated series of murders as his nephew recovers. As the summer of 1966 approaches, rock and roll evolves to reflect the increasing unrest in this country, and the people of northeast Texas wonder why their once peaceful community has suddenly become a dangerous place to live.

Ned's pre-teen grandchildren, Top and Pepper, are underfoot at every turn. The two lawmen, along with the deputy John Washington, cross paths with many colorful characters originally introduced in Wortham's acclaimed Red River series: cranky old Judge O.C. Rains, the jittery little farmer Isaac Reader, and the Wilson boys Ty Cobb and Jimmy Foxx.

And then there's the arrival of the mysterious tough old man named Tom Bell.

When Cody follows his main suspect across the Rio Grande and into Mexico, Ned understands that to save his nephew, he will have to cross more than a river, he will have to cross over to the Right Side of Wrong.

Humor, suspense, horror, precognition, and life in the tumultuous 60s are examined with an unflinching eye by the author of the Red River series.

"A sleeper that deserves wider attention."
The New York Times

"Wortham’s third entry in his addictive Texas procedural set in the 1960s is a deceptively meandering tale of family and country life bookended by a dramatic opening and conclusion. C.J. Box fans would like this title."
Starred Review, The Library Journal

"Folksy neighbors, good old boys, and Bible-thumping grandmas all speak with a twang so thick it could only be cut with a chainsaw. Two preteen cousins, Top and Pepper, a tomboy, give new meaning to the term 'reckless endangerment.' Readers will want to see a lot more of the (mostly) law-abiding Parker clan."
Publishers Weekly

"If you like mystery tales set deep in the heart of rural Texas, you may relish The Right Side of Wrong."
The Dallas Morning News

Wortham "moves into the territory of Cormac McCarthy." This third book in the Red River Mystery series "is so involved with its time and place, it transcends it. The books have grown darker and the characters confront more ambiguous themes, which amps up the atmosphere and fun."
Mystery People

"For those readers who like their bad guys bad, and their good guys good, Wortham's latest will fill the ticket."
Reviewing The Evidence

"Wortham does for the Texas Sixties what The Last Picture Show did for the earlier decade."
—Blogcritics.org

"An eye-opening picture into what everyday life was like without cell phones, the internet, and other technological conveniences we now consider necessities—and something very few current novels offer."
—BookFetish

"Reavis Z. Wortham has masterfully reinvented the true meaning of 'heart pounding' by bringing fears to life right where we live. You'll burn through the pages of The Right Side Of Wrong from the first bone-chilling page."
—Sandra Brannan, author of the Liv Bergen Mystery Series, a two-time recipient of ABA Indie NextList

"Set in the 1960s, pits a group of Texas lawmen against a Mexican cartel in a gritty, dark and suspenseful Western with a final explosive showdown that kept me turning the pages late into the night to see who would survive. Wortham’s rich prose places him among the finest writers of American Western fiction today."
—Jamie Freveletti, internationally bestselling author of Dead Asleep

 

The Burrows by Reavis Z. WorthamBurrows (Poisoned Pen Press, 2012)
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Lyndon B. Johnson is President, Beatlemania is in overdrive and gasoline costs 30 cents a gallon when Ned Parker retires as constable in Center Springs, Texas. But his plan to live a quiet life as a cotton farmer is torpedoed. A phone call leads Ned to a body in the Red River and into the urgent investigation headed by his nephew, the newly elected constable Cody Parker. Together they work to head off a multi-state killing spree that sets northeast Texas on fire.

As the weeks pass, Ned's grandchildren, ten-year-old Top and his tomboy cousin Pepper, struggle with personal issues resulting from their traumatic experiences at the Rock Hole only months before. They now find themselves in the middle of a nightmare for which no one can prepare.

Cody and Deputy John Washington, the law south of the tracks, follow a lead from their small community to the long abandoned Cotton Exchange warehouse in Chisum. Stunned, they find the Exchange packed full of the town's cast off garbage and riddled with booby-trapped passageways and dark burrows. Despite Ned's warnings, Cody enters the building and finds himself relying on his recent military experiences to save both himself and Big John. Unfortunately, the trail doesn't end there and the killing spree continues...

Selected by Library Journal as one of the Nine Historical Mysteries for the Summer of 2012!

"I am often sent books for review or blurb, and I no longer allow many to come my way, as they stack up. Now and then if someone wants to send one with the understanding I may or may not get to it, or if I do, may not like, or if like, I may not comment, then that is another thing altogether. But, in going through my pile I came across Burrows, by Reavis Z. Wortham, and let me tell you, it is fine. It's a historical crime novel, if the sixties is historical to you. For me, not that long ago, at least in mind. But highly recommended."
—Joe Lansdale, author of The Edge of Dark Water

"With atmosphere so thick you can breathe it, and characters so real you can touch them, Reavis Z. Wortham's Burrows is a book worth putting all others aside to read. Clear a space on your bookshelves, folks, because the real deal has arrived."
—John Gilstrap, author of Threat Warning and Damage Control

"Wortham's outstanding sequel to The Rock Hole (2011)... combines the gonzo sensibility of Joe R. Lansdale and the elegiac mood of To Kill a Mockingbird to strike just the right balance between childhood innocence and adult horror."
—Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

"The cinematic characters have substance and a pulse. They walk off the page and talk Texas."
The Dallas Morning News

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The Rock Hole by Reavis Z. WorthamThe Rock Hole (Poisoned Pen Press, 2011)
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The Rock Hole was chosen by Kirkus as one of the 12 best novels of 2011! "An accomplished first novel about life and murder in a small Texas town. Back in the summer of 1964, life is simpler, though probably no less fraught with evil. In Lamar County, Texas, Ned Parker's the law. He's a bit long in the tooth but still has that don't-tread-on-me look that county reprobates have learned to take seriously. And then there's Top, the constable's adoring and well-loved 10-year-old grandson. Through them, in alternating chapters, Wortham tells a story of grace under pressure, of what happens when a deranged and vicious predator decides that they're his promised prey. Local news sources tab him 'The Skinner,' and the label is chillingly apt. He starts with small animals, then proceeds to small human beings—mutilated, murdered, their corpses gruesomely displayed as trophies, an idiosyncratic array doubly intimidating in its lack of pattern. Lamar County cowers. Constable Ned is convinced that a vendetta is involved, and though the why of it remains murky, he can no longer doubt its intent. Something noxious is heading for the Parkers. It arrives with breathtaking suddenness, leading to a fast and furious climax, written to the hilt, harrowing in its unpredictability. Not just scary but funny too, as Wortham nails time and place in a sure-handed, captivating way. There's a lot of good stuff in this unpretentious gem. Don't miss it."
Kirkus Reviews

"Throughout, scenes of hunting, farming, and family life sizzle with detail and immediacy. The dialog is spicy with country humor and color, and Wortham knows how to keep his story moving. The Rock Hole is an unnerving but fascinating read."
Historical Novels Review

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Doreen's by Reavis Z. WorthamDoreen's 24 Hour Eat Gas Now Café (Texas Fish & Game Publishing Co., 1999)
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From the Publisher: Doreen's 24 Hour Eat Gas Now Café is one of those reader-friendly books written to be consumed in small portions—short, funny stories that follow the escapades of a colorful cast of characters you'll feel you've known in your own life. The problem with that design is that once you pick it up, you will find it hard to put it down, so instead of serving its humor in small bites, you'll probably end up gobbling it all down in one setting. Which is fine. It's one funny book. If you've ever hung around a local coffee haunt, you'll identify with the likes of Delbert P. Axelrod, "Wrong" Willie, Doc, the ever splendid Trixie, and of course Doreen, the main characters who populate Reavis' thinly disguised fictional diner.

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