Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years, you’ve heard of Rick Riordan. His series revolving around the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian pantheons are immensely popular, meaning that millions of people (especially kids) are suddenly interested in mythology again.
But this isn’t Riordan’s first brush with fame and fortune; not only does he write great YA literature, his murder mystery series for adults kicks total butt.
This ain’t your mama’s mystery novel
Published in 1997, Big Red Tequila is Riordan’s first novel. It stars a tequila-guzzling, crime-solving, Tai Chi Master named Tres Navarre (pronounced “tray,” a derivation of the Spanish word for the number three) who just can’t seem to avoid trouble no matter how hard he tries.
At the novel’s open, we find Tres moving back to his hometown of San Antonio, Texas, after 10 years away. Not much has changed in those 10 years: Tres’ enemies are still his enemies, his friends are still his enemies, and something big is going down in the Alamo City.
Local flavor, national success
The Tres Navarre series is definitely one of my serendipitous finds of the year. Several months ago I was clicking around Riordan’s website, reading up on The Lost Hero, and I stumbled across the list of his novels for adults. I love a good mystery, and the plot sounded good, so when I finally found a copy at my local library, I snapped it right up.
If you’re a Texan (and even if you’re not), chances are you’ve been to San Antonio. I knew from his biography that Riordan was born there, and I was interested in seeing how he would portray that setting in his series. As someone who lives near San Antonio myself, I loved reading descriptions of well-known local places and things — like The Dominion, Mi Tierra, the Riverwalk, and Sabinal. I also loved the descriptions of Mexican culture that are so prevalent in this area (especially Dia de los Muertos).
But this book has got way more going for it than a familiar and exciting setting. There’s also crooked cops, gangsters, mob bosses, bribery, murder, car chases, and a final twist that came out of left field.
I loved everything about this book. But the part I loved the most? There are six more books in the series. I can’t wait to see what scrapes Tres finds himself in next.
“He looked like he had once tried to listen to a calculus lecture and had never quite gotten over it. His eyebrows were drawn together, his mouth open, frowning.” (p. 225)
“Two nuns in full black regalia and fluted hats ran by, screaming in German, followed closely by a group of very drunk and very naked pinheads, followed closely by the SAPD beat patrol. The crowd opened and closed around the chase. A few people laughed. Then more drinks were ordered and life went on.
‘Is it like this every night?’ Maia asked, clearly impressed.
‘Saturdays it usually picks up.’ ” (p. 251)
Have you heard of this series, or read any of the books? What’s your most recent serendipitous find?