Big Red Tequila by Rick Riordan
Reasons for reading: took it on my recent trip to San Antonio
Description: "Meet Tres Navarre...tequila drinker, Tai Chi master, unlicensed P.I., with a penchant for Texas-size trouble. Jackson "Tres" Navarre and his enchilada-eating cat, Robert Johnson, pull into San Antonio and find nothing waiting but trouble. Ten years ago Navarre lefttown and the memory of his father's murder behind him. Now he's back, looking for answers. Yet the more Tres digs, trying to put his suspicions to rest, thefresher the decade-old crime looks: Mafia connections, construction site payoffs, and slick politicians' games all conspire to ruin his homecoming. It's obvious Tres has stirred up a hornet's nest of trouble. He gets attacked, shot at, run over by a big blue Thunderbird--and his old girlfriend, the one hewants back, turns up missing. Tres has to rescue the woman, nail his father's murderer, and get the hell out of Dodge before mob-style Texas justice catches up to him. The chances of staying alive looked better for the defenders of the Alamo...."
My thoughts: I had no idea that Rick Riordan had an alternate life as a writer of adult mysteries! I only knew him from the Percy Jackson series. Well, no matter what he's writing, I think he does it well.
I didn't get the name of the book at first - we don't have Big Red here in Canada, we basically only have red cream soda, so we just call it cream soda. But I noticed it all over the place in Texas and I liked how the beverage kept popping up throughout the book.
I really liked Tres - he reminded me a bit of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden (minus the wizardry) obviously for the PI angle but also because he was so sarcastic and bad-ass, yet good-hearted. And I really enjoyed that he was both a martial arts master and the holder of an advanced English degree.
The actual mystery involved all kinds of worlds colliding - the Mafia, shady wealthy people, a former (or is she?) girlfriend, both friends and enemies of Tres' late sherriff father... It was quite a ride. The secondary characters are really well-done, too, especially the Red Zinger-drinking cop who helps Tres because he knew his father and Tres' rather fab girlfriend back in California, Mai.
The book describes San Antonio really well and, as I always am, I was delighted to read about places we'd just visited, such as the pinata-festooned Mi Terra bakery and cafe. And the Riverwalk. I love his description:"About a hundred thousand people were strolling the flagstone banks past the fountains, stone bridges, and pricey new restaurants. The kitchen smoke of ten or fifteen different cuisines drifted up past the yellow and green patio umbrellas. Tourists with cameras and souvenir sombreros, basic trainees on leave, rich men with high-priced call girls, all happily spilling drinks on each other. This is what a San Antonian thinks of when you say 'river.' I remember how much trouble I had reading Huck Finn as a child, trying to imagine how in the hell that raft made it past all those restaurants and crowds, in water only three feet deep and thirty feet across, without anybody noticing the stowaway slave. Maybe that's why I became an English major - sheer confusion."
I also like this passage because it shows that where you grow up really does influence how you see the world (Tres tried to make a life in San Francisco, but couldn't stay away from home forever) - I was totally shocked that the San Antonio River is so small! I live near a river that, while not the Mississippi, is a large, working, float-log-booms-down-it river. The San Antonio is a trench compared to that, but it's still at the heart of the city.
I'm looking forward to reading the next book, The Widower's Two-Step.