SYNOPSIS: Ten years after his father was gunned down in front of him, Jackson “Tres” Navarre returns to his hometown to solve the case the police couldn’t and ends up falling into a cover-up scheme that just lands him in more trouble, well at least more trouble than usual.
It’s weird reading an author’s first book after you have associated him with his established works. From the beginning I could tell that this was a Riordan work because there was that dry humor that I always associate with his protagonists, but there was something missing. I’m not quite sure what was missing, but it felt off to me. Over the years Riordan has clearly defined his voice, so it is really cool to see where he got started. I enjoyed this first book in the Tres Navarre series, but at the same time it didn’t really feel any different from other crime novels that I have read. Tres is your typical macho-male and I don’t feel like he was very multi-faceted in this book, although that may come later in the series. There also were a lot of moments where I felt like the Tai Chi moves was over explained, but then again I don’t know anything about Tai Chi so I would have been lost without it. I really felt that Riordan captured the flavor of Texas in his descriptions of the land, the people, and the landmarks. There is also some peppering in of words and phrases in Spanish that I think help cement where in the world we are. There were times when the investigation was going a little slow and my mind would wander, but then there were moments that gripped my attention and wouldn’t let go. I adored Tres’s cat, Robert Johnson, because even though all he can do is “meow” Riordan was still able to give the cat a spectacular characterization (like seriously he felt like a real cat)! There were even some moments where he felt like my cat! I really wished that Maia had a bigger role in the book because her character was cool and interesting and was able to keep Tres on the right track (like seriously it’s amazing he wasn’t killed before she showed up to briefly help). I hope that she shows up in the later books! Overall, I would pick this book up if you are a fan of Rick Riordan or want to read something with authentic Texas flavor.