If you check out the Goodreads comments for this book, most of them say something like this: “I’ve read and loved the Percy Jackson series, heard that Rick Riordan had a mystery series for adults, and thought I’d give it a try.” Which is exactly why I picked up this book.
Our erstwhile hero is Dr. Jackson Navarre, Ph.D. in Medieval Studies, also known as “Tres” (Spanish for three, not “Tray”; a mistake I was making). Tres is also a private investigator. In fact, that’s the reason he moved back to San Antonio, after years in the Bay Area. He’s content with his job at the P.I. agency; it’s not glamorous, but it’s good work. Then, one spring, he’s offered a position at the University of Texas at San Antonio, in part because of his P.I. job: the man who had the position right before Tres ended up being shot to death in his house, after receiving several death threats via letter. In the middle of the interview, just as Tres is trying to find a reason to say no, a pipe bomb is delivered, exploding shortly thereafter. Of course Tres takes the job. It’s a series of twists and turns from there, as we explore the gritty underbelly of 1990s San Antonio.
This is the third in the series (the first published in hardback, and the first carried by my library. I love Riordan, but not enough to hunt down the first two Tres Navarre books), but works just fine as an introduction to the world of Tres. There are a lot of characters to juggle, but Riordan manages that beautifully; Tres is easy to like, as are many of the other characters. Even the baddies are well-drawn, and have intriguing and complex motivations for their actions.
It’s vintage Riordan, to say the least. Not as funny as his books for children, but still quick-witted and engaging. It’s quite the homage to San Antonio; even though it’s rough and edgy, there’s an undercurrent of love and admiration for Riordan’s hometown. Probably most importantly, it’s brilliantly plotted (which is something that Riordan always does well); there’s enough information in the book to make the mystery solvable if you follow the clues, but there are also enough twists and turns to make the book exciting. Sure, it’s clunky in spots, but it’s also a page turner from the point a pipe bomb explodes into the first chapter until the final reveal at the end.
Which it to say: it’s Percy Jackson awesomeness for adults.
Rated: High for prodigious use of the f-word (I stopped counting after 7 in the first three chapters), as well as other language.