Dark Places: A Red River Mystery

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Product Details

Price
$18.99
Publisher
Poisoned Pen Press
Publish Date
Pages
370
Dimensions
5.5 X 8.5 X 1.1 inches | 0.8 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9781464204241

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About the Author

Reavis Z. Wortham is the critically acclaimed author of the Red River Mysteries set in rural Northeast Texas in the 1960s. As a boy, he hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, the inspiration for the fictional location. He is also the author of a thriller series featuring Texas Ranger Sonny Hawke. He teaches writing at a wide variety of venues including local libraries and writers' conferences. Wortham has been a newspaper columnist and magazine writer since 1988, and has been the Humor Editor for Texas Fish and Game Magazine for the past twenty-two years. He and his wife, Shana, live in Northeast Texas. Check out his website at www.reaviszwortham.com

Reviews

Reavis Z. Wortham is the real thing: a literary voice that's gut-bucket Americana delivered with a warm and knowing Texas twang.--CJ Box
DARK PLACES is part of the series Red River Mystery. However, one does not have to read them in order to enjoy and understand what is going on. DARK PLACES is a standalone book within a series! Reavis Wortham is a charming, delightful writer than interjects humor with a mystery to keep the pace moving. DARK PLACES is a fun ride! Highly enjoyable!--Cynthia Clark "FMAM "
Reavis Wortham notes in his Acknowledgments section that part of our emotional lives are lived in "dark places," the title of his new novel. He also notes that our prejudices want criminals to somehow look "criminal," to exhibit some kind of hint that, if we were astute enough, we could read the book of life and stay out of harm's way. Wortham's premise is that badness is often illegible; it is busy just next door, or down the street. Dramatis personae: Beatrice Parker, also known as Pepper, bored 16-year-old orphan staying with her grandparents; Top Parker, her cousin and the sheriff's son; Cale Westlake, high-school boy of the "in" clique; Miss Becky Parker and Constable Ned Parker, Pepper and Top's grandparents; Marty Smallwood and John T. West, small-town toughs; Freddy Vines, who clings to the toughs because his lisp makes him unpopular; Deputy John Washington, whose African heritage enables him to keep the law on the other side of the tracks; Deputy Anna Sloan, the first woman on the local police force; Crow, mysterious man who may or may not be a Native American; two businessmen; hippies; the operator; waitresses with hearts of... In the late nineteen-sixties, in Center Springs, a non-existent town in the real county of Lamar (county seat: Paris, Texas) on the Red River, two businessmen come to town to buy real estate. They are a little too free in showing their wallets in front of the locals, and bad things befall them. Constable Ned Parker, the sheriff, and the rest of Center Springs law and order begin looking for two strangers, reported missing. On the same night that the businessmen meet their fate, Pepper and the gang see something they should not have. Hating Center Springs as a hick town far too small to contain her talents, and frightened by what she saw, sixteen-year-old Pepper entices Cale, the high school bully, to steal some money and take her to San Francisco, the land of sophistication, where everyone has flowers in their hair. Constable Ned Parker roars off down Highway 66 to rescue the missing Pepper, and readers are treated to a view of the funky motor hotels and diners, crash pads and bars that lined the legendary highway. On the way, Ned picks up Crow, a man who has no other name, seems to be Native American, and seems to want to help. Like all members of the genus Corvus, Crow has an agenda, but he is willing to watch and observe the strange race of men and their doings. On that same fateful night in Center Springs, an old man, trying to shoo some cattle off the highway and back into the pasture, is hit by a car. Law enforcement is suspicious. When they are not worrying about Pepper or looking for missing persons, members of the sheriff's department visit and re-visit the dead man's strange wife who, instead of weeping, giggles mirthlessly when spoken to. As always, Reavis Wortham's novels are endowed by the charm of a time that seems simpler to us, and by a place whose emotional landscape seems easy to parse. Wortham dots his scene-painting with childhood pranks, such as an attempt to release a tame monkey in the Baptist church on Sunday, and with products that this reader recalls having eaten or used in those long ago days which have given way to now. In this particular Wortham novel, there are several plots and several mysteries, such as, who is Crow, and where is Pepper and, where did those guys disappear to? There may be a few too many balls in the air here. The parallel plots, interesting on their own, do not always reinforce each other, while Wortham's central premise remains: look to the right, look to the left. Of those sitting close by you now, do you know what darkness drives them forward?--Reviewing the Evidence
It's 1967 in Lamar County, Texas, a place for young and old to easily become bored. Fourteen-year-old Pepper convinces Cale, a boy she sort-of likes, to run off and join hippies in California. Pepper's father and her lawman grandfather chase after them. Meanwhile, back in town, an old dairy farmer gets run over in his own cow pasture, and two men, flashing money and given to wearing suits, go missing. Sheriff Cody Parker and his new deputy, good-looking Anna Sloan, try to figure out the old farmer's death and whatever happened to the missing businessmen. Days of hard rain from a Gulf hurricane complicate everything. Lots going on, but it works. Wortham's people speak as they did then a car's accelerator pedal is the "foot feed" and every locale feels real. Readers will cheer for and ache with the good folks, and secondary characters hold their own. Melva, the dead farmer's wife with her out-of-place giggling, is a scene-stealing enigma. Crow, a wandering Native American, is one clever badass. Even a cadaver-smelling Springer spaniel, brought around to help search for the missing, is authentic. The "dark places" inhabited by the malevolent perpetrators are indeed very dark. The novel's short chapters fit both the fast pace and the deftly spare actions and details. Some readers not familiar with Wortham may struggle a little with the opening chapters, which hop around among many characters, multiple points of view, and several locations. But the rhythm of Wortham's writing, transporting us back in time, soon takes hold and is well worth the reader's efforts.--Historical Novel Society
Dark Places is the fifth novel in the Red River Mystery series by author Reavis Z. Wortham. This is a great series published by Poisoned Pen Press. I have immensely enjoyed the first four books in the series. Dark Places is a fabulous addition to this series. Reavis Z. Wortham is an excellent author who not only takes the reader back to the 1960s, he weaves a tale that is impossible to put down. The suspense was intense as he wove the different stories together. Young Top and Pepper are still front and center along with their older Parker relatives. The small town tale centered around the disappearance of two gentlemen, the hit and run of a resident and torrential rains that would not quit. And at the beginning of the tale, young Pepper was still yearning to follow all the young hippies out to San Francisco. Dark Places can easily stand alone but I highly recommend that you read this entire series. It is a wonderful journey back to the old timey world of small town Texas in the 1960s. Dark Places was a pleasure to read. I love these characters! Highly recommend!--MysteriesEtc
1967: a fifth trip back to Center Springs, Texas, focuses on one regular's attempt to bust out of the place for good. "Focuses" may not be the best word, since once all the cylinders start firing, Wortham interleaves four different stories. Pepper Parker, still recovering at 14 from the traumas visited on her by earlier installments (Vengeance Is Mine, 2014, etc.), yields to Baptist preacher's son Cale Westlake's suggestion that the two of them hit the road together, bound for San Francisco. Pepper's same-aged cousin, Top, tells his own story of missing her while he tries to stay out of the way of all the grown-ups looking for her and convinced that he knows where she's headed. Pepper's father, James Parker, and his own father, Constable Ned Parker, fan out along the winding road to California looking for the missing girl, making new friends and enemies at every turn. Anna Sloan, the new deputy Top's uncle, Sheriff Cody Parker, has brought from Houston, makes increasingly pointed inquiries about the hit-and-run death of inoffensive farmer Leland Hale. The first story, in which Pepper fights off both menacing bikers and the folks who rescue her from them as she chases the Summer of Love, is the one most deeply rooted in the period; the second is the one most obviously calculated to appeal to series fans; the third, tangling Ned with a Comanche who calls himself Crow, is the most eventful; the fourth packs the most mystery and, despite all indications, the biggest surprises. Once again, Wortham supplies something for everyone--especially fans of summer movies who love chase sequences so much that they don't care who's chasing whom.--Kirkus Reviews
In 1967 Center Springs, Texas, bored fourteen year old Pepper Parker persuades Cale Westlake to run away with her and join the Flower Children on the road to California. At the same time her slightly older "twin" cousin Top Parker struggles with being a local misfit. On a deadly night someone kills two businessmen and a hit and run leaves a farmer dead. Instead of investigating the three homicides, Constable Ned Parker travels Route 66 to bring home his daughter Pepper and her companion. Leading the murder inquiries, Sheriff Cody Parker hires Anna Sloan as a deputy to work the cases. Her honed instincts lead Anna to the killers; but her gut fails to keep her safe from these predators on their Dark Places home turf. The fifth Red River historical mystery (see The Right Side Of Wrong and Vengeance Is Mine) is a terrific suspense thriller that transports grateful fans to 1967 small-town Texas and Route 66. The Parker brood has their hands filled between corralling the runaways, and capturing a vehicular homicide killer and the businessmen murderers. Aptly named Dark Places, this is a superb period piece.--Midwest Book Review
Very entertaining book. I'm going to check out the other ones as well.--NetGalley
My second mystery read was another in Reavis Z Wortham's "A Red River Mystery," "Dark Places." This novel is set in the era of flower children in 1967. Pepper, the 14 year old grandchild of our protagonist, Constable Ned Parker from Center Springs, Texas, decides to run away with her sometime boyfriend, Cale Westlake in hopes of reaching San Francisco to start a new, carefree life. The trials and tribulations of being on the road with very little money and no food or supplies soon brings both Cale and Pepper face to face with reality, but not before they run into trouble with some underhanded store owners, some pimps and prostitutes and a bunch of hippies, and a motorcycle gang. Meanwhile, Ned goes after Pepper and meets up with an American Indian named Crow who has some ulterior motives for helping out. "Dark Places" is a nostalgic ride down Highway 66 from Texas to Barstow exploring some of the darker sides of the "summer of love" in 1967. I enjoyed this book every bit as much as Worthham's other books in this series.--Mystery Maven
In this fifth novel in his Red River Mystery series, Frisco writer Reavis Z. Wortham has felt compelled "to explore the darkness that surrounds us all." And explore it he does, in a well-written, multifaceted tale of murder and cultural discontent in a small, northeast Texas town near the Oklahoma border in 1967.--Dallas Morning News
In the summer of 1967, everyone is headed to the Haight to wear some flowers in their hair, including Pepper. There is nothing to do in Center Springs, TX, and even 14-year-old Top, Pepper's cousin, wants out. On the night Pepper leaves, two businessmen are murdered and a local farmer is killed in a hit-and-run. Const. Ned Parker, Top's grandfather, heads out after Pepper, leaving Sheriff Cody Parker, Top's uncle, in charge of the investigations. Cody has hired a former Houston police detective to be his lead investigator. But no one in small-town Texas takes a lady investigator seriously, so Dep. Anna Sloan has to forge her own way to bring the bad guys to justice. VERDICT Replete with period details and a strong sense of place, this winning fifth series entry (after Vengeance Is Mine) is as much a coming-of-age story as crime fiction. This series is comparable to Rick Riordan's "Tres Navarre"or Joe Lansdale's "Hap Collins and ¬Leonard Pine" books.--Library Journal
Set in 1967, Wortham's engaging fifth Red River mystery (after 2014's Vengeance Is Mine) focuses on two cousins: aptly named Pepper Parker, the feisty 14-year-old granddaughter of Constable Ned Parker of Center Springs, Tex., and Top Parker, Ned's grandson, who's a little older than Pepper and is often mistaken for her twin. Bored with small-town life, Pepper decides to run away to California and manages to talk Cale Westlake, a boy she likes, into going with her. Ned and Pepper's father get on the trail of the clueless hitchhikers, who run into scam artists, hippies, and bikers on their journey west. Meanwhile, a robbery by three town wastrels goes bad and two visiting strangers are killed, a crime that Sheriff Cody Parker and his new deputy, Anna Sloan, try to solve. Wortham nails the time period, the hardscrabble town, and the people, for whom family loyalties are paramount.--Publishers Weekly