bookrev: Big Red Tequila by Rick Riordan

Big Red Tequila is the first in a series of Tres Navarre novels,Big Red Tequila a semi-private investigator set in my home town of San Antonio. I’ve always enjoyed novels set in locations where I’ve been, describing locations I know. But this is the first I’ve read set in San Antonio that describes the places and characters so well. I will definitely be reading more in this series (and have already ordered Widower’s Two Step, the next book in the series), and recommend it to my San Antonion friends and all who enjoy a good private eye mystery…I read it through it two sittings.

Tres Navarre’s father was Bexar County Sheriff (the county San Antonio is in, for you non-Texans), and was gunned down in front of Tres. Tres returns to SA from ten years of exile at the request of his former girlfriend Lillian, leaving behind his Taichi teacher, private eye partner and lover, Maia, in San Francisco. Starting to dig up the past rapidly gets Tres in trouble with the SAPD, the mob, city councilmen, businessmen, old and new lovers.

With all of these parties telling Tres to let his father’s unsolved murder be, he ignores them all, piecing together seemingly unrelated clues, most found by putting his nose in other’s business, some found through memories of his own. Along the way Lillian disappears (seemingly kidnapped), Maia shows up to bail him out of jail, he gets beat up, uses taichi to beat up a few of his own, and finds links to city corruption, his father’s death and his old girfriend.

The San Antonio descriptions of people and places are excellent, including:

  • City councelman Asante, who bears more than a passing resemblence to SA City Councilman Bernardo Eureste (and a sly comment about interns in the park makes the connection);
  • The Alamo and Blanco cafes;
  • The original Taco Cabana (right by Trinity University, accused of a typhoid outbreak there at one time);
  • A nice “mom knows Whitley Strieber” comment;
  • The Ozzy at the Alamo incident;
  • The former Selma speed trap (never got me, but snared many of my friends);
  • A good description of the changes one sees after you return home after many years;
  • The bats under the bridge in Austin

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