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Book Review: The Devil Went Down to Austin

Reviewed By: Katarina - RAM Sweden

The Devil Went Down to Austin     Amazon US PB Amazon US HC Amazon Canada PB Amazon Canada HC
Rick Riordan
Class/Genre:   Mystery   Private Investigator   Academic   Ethnic
Series: Tres Navarre # 4

Private eye, and sometimes English professor, Tres Navarre has been working on the family ranch, trying to find peace of mind after nearly having been killed. Now he finds that his haven may be lost. The actual owner of the ranch is Tres' brother Garrett and he has mortgaged it to form a start-up company; Techsan Security Software. For the last year no payments have been made and the bank is threatening to foreclose.

Tres learns that Garrett started the company with Jimmy Doebler, his childhood friend, and Jimmy's wife, Ruby. To begin with the company is successful and gets positive write-ups. But when they turn down a buy out offer from Matthew Pena things start to go seriously wrong with their beta testing. Law suits and financial trouble follow, as does a falling out between partners, including a divorce between Ruby and Jimmy. Ruby wants to accept Pena's new, much lower offer, Jimmy is considering it, but Garrett is convinced Pena is causing all their problems by sabotaging the beta testing and refuses.

After a day and evening of working together on Jimmy's kiln by Lake Travis, interspersed by revelations and emotional outbreaks, Tres and Garrett retire for the night leaving Jimmy to follow later. The next morning Jimmy is found dead, and not only does Garrett have the motives to wish him dead, the technical evidence points to him as well. Tres has to put all his efforts into trying to find out the truth, even when everything he unearths seems to make Garrett an even stronger suspect.


This is the quintessential crime novel. Interesting and likeable protagonists, including a strong female character. Complex and seemingly dangerous alternative suspects, and dubious police connections. A carefully crafted plot that forces you to shift your suspicions as it takes unexpected turns.

I enjoyed learning about the involved history of Garrett and the psychology between him and his friends and partners. And between Tres and Garrett, I found it a little difficult to stand the harsh and sometimes accusatory way they communicated but was lead to see why this would be. It took me a while to figure out how to read the included e-mails and news group postings, but I did figure out one of the major plot twists in advance. One came as a total surprise and I almost started the book over again to find out what clues I'd missed.

Because this book is not only an entertaining and suspenseful read, it plays fair with any readers wanting to try to solve the case themselves. I highly recommend it, and will now be tracking down all other Rick Riordan's novels.

Katarina - RAM Sweden

Reprinted with permission. Do Not repost without permission from the author, Katarina - RAM Sweden

Please Note: Books reviewed are usually provided by the publisher, author, or an agent. Reviewers usually get to keep the book.

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