Rated Reads

The Devil Went Down to Austin

by Rick Riordan

Rated: High

Our erstwhile college professor and PI, Tres Navarre, is off to the University of Texas at Austin for the summer to teach a class in Medieval English literature. Which means, since he’s not interested in getting an apartment for six weeks, he gets to bunk with his older brother, computer programmer extraordinaire Garrett.

Of course, because it’s Tres, things don’t quite go as smoothly as planned. He ends up going to Austin early because he’s found that Garrett’s mortgaged the family ranch to cover costs for his new startup tech business. Which is failing. Badly. And then, Garrett’s partner and longtime friend, Jimmy, ends up shot dead, and Garrett’s the main suspect. So, it’s up to Tres (well, it’s not, but Tres decides it is) to figure out who, besides his paraplegic older brother, could have done the dirty deed. Throw in a scheming ex-wife, some rich but estranged relatives, and a cutthroat businessman out for blood, and you’ve got some dangerous people to deal with. Not to mention Tres’s ex, a successful corporate lawyer, whom he hasn’t seen in two years.

Just like in The Last King of Texas, Rick Riordan piles it on fast and furious. He’s moved the locale to Austin, and while he doesn’t have the same affection for that town as he has for San Antonio, he captures the unique flavor of Austin and the UT campus. That said, the town itself takes a backseat to the story, which is all kinds of gripping. It’s an incredibly gritty story, dealing with domestic issues as well as murder (not to mention corporate takeovers). Still, Riordan puts the reader through the paces, keeping us guessing as to who the real murderer is. And when the twists come (and they are there), it’s enough to knock you out of your seat. It’s a good kind of surprise: the ground has been laid for the twists and it makes perfect sense when they do come, right at the end. But, even with the grittiness and twists and turns, Riordan doesn’t skimp on character: Tres is fleshed out even more, and the relationship he has with his ex is a fascinating, complex one.

I would say I’m finding it hard to believe I’m hooked on these mysteries, but honestly, I’m not. I adore Riordan’s writing. And these definitely qualify as good Riordan writing.

Rated: High for language (I lost track of counting the f-bombs, though I think there are less than in The Last King of Texas.)

— Reviewed by Melissa Fox

Melissa Madsen Fox's blogging career began in 2004 when she started Book Nut. Reading, reviewing and book blogging have taken over what's left of her life after being a stay-at-home mom to four rambunctious daughters and wife to a slightly- absent-minded professor of political science.

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  • The Devil Went Down to Austin
  • by Rick Riordan
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: