The second book is a strong litmus test for an author and his series. We get a clearer idea of the long road they plan to take us down. Burrows, Reavis Wortham’s follow up to the The Rock Hole, passes with flying colors. Not only did he surpass his previous book, he made me reevaluate it it as the first few stitches in a Texas tapestry featuring farmer and town constable Ned Parker.
Burrowsstarts soon after The Rock Hole. Top, Ned’s grandson and part time first person narrator of the books, is trying to get over the encounter he had in the first story. Ned has retired and turned over his badge to his nephew, Cody, a former tunnel rat in Vietnam. When a group of thrill killers come to town, Ned volunteers to help out.
The trail leads to an abandoned cotton exchange. They soon find out their quarry isn’t made up of killers, but hoarders. Cody has to use his skills and confront ugly memories from Vietnam. John Washington, the black deputy from nearby Paris, with Cody and Ned outside for support, deals with the roaches, rats, and booby-traps as he crawls through the trash. Wortham ups the creep factor by starting each chapter with what Cody and Washington are crawling through.
Where the book really works is in the way it show the Sixties affecting this Texas town that may not have had a Fifties. The Rock Hole showed it with race and civil rights, now the horror of Vietnam is being brought home. The cultural revolution is even examined in subtle ways with Top wanting to hear The Beatles on the truck radio and his grandfather changing the station. Something tells me in further books, Ned will have less control over the times.
Burrows is a thriller, coming of age, and regional novel. It even has a western style stand off near the end. Wortham has captured a time and place and I’m curious to see how it and its citizens will grow over a turbulent decade.
MysteryPeople welcomes Reavis Wortham, along with Ben Rehder, Tim Bryant & Bill Durham, to BookPeople tonight at 7p for a Lone Star Author Panel. And you can bet with this many Texas authors in one place, we’ll have some complimentary Texas beverages on hand.