My second novel in the Red River series, Burrows, is scheduled for release on July 7. It came quickly on the heels of The Rock Hole, and picks up where that mystery left off. Though The Rock Hole was “spontaneous” in nature as I wrote it, Burrows had been ginning in my brain for a long, long time.
When we sent out the first release for Burrows, along with a 250-word synopsis, an old college buddy called. “I see you finally did something with that hoarding story.”
I was surprised Landon remembered, because he’d read the original short story back in 1982. “It’s a little more involved, now.”
“How could that be? People crawling through tunnels in a house packed with garbage was pretty intense.”
“Yeah, but I expanded the story, moved it back to 1965, and the house became a monstrous warehouse called The Cotton Exchange.”
He paused for a long moment. “Now you talkin’!“
Landon is a retired lawman, and it was his input back in the early 80s that helped me work out the logistics of sending officers into a building loaded with booby traps made from accumulated trash. The idea came from an old newspaper article I read about the Collier brothers who had filled their 3-story Harlem brownstone with trash. The idea that someone could live in a landfill full of tunnels was fascinating to me, and then I thought, “What if…???” That’s where Burrows came alive.
When I finished The Rock Hole, which was originally intended to be a standalone novel, I killed most everyone off. My wonderful editor at Poisoned Pen Press, Annette Rogers, convinced me the story could continue into a series, so I had to rewrite the ending and think ahead. My old short story came to mind, so I brushed it off, deleted three quarters of what I’d poorly written back then, and kept it in mind as I moved from the beginning chapters toward the middle.
I sent the first 100 pages to Annette, and she replied with a shudder. “That opening chapter was the spookiest thing I’ve read in a long time.”
We were on our way.
Burrows picks up with my main characters settling into new roles dictated by their experiences in The Rock Hole. Ned Parker retired. Cody (whose origins as a Parker have not been discussed *I still don’t know if he’s really a nephew, son, or cousin despite how people refer to him in the novel*) is elected to replace Ned as constable of the Center Springs community. John Washington, the almost mythical black deputy sheriff, still struggles with racism in the small town while at the same time keeps an eye on Ned’s family he loves so deeply. The kids, Top and Pepper, keep getting into trouble and are trying to come to terms with the events in the bottoms that scarred them both physically and mentally. Life goes on in the mid-1960s, until a fugitive murderer stops in nearby Chisum and begins to take trophies.
If you’re looking for an Agatha Christie mystery, you won’t find it here. I’m far from traditional in any sense. Mine are more “mystery thrillers” that take that extra step from who-done-it and force my characters to survive events that launch common people into uncommon situations that carries them along like a leaf in a flash flood to the climax. Burrows continues the ride we started in the first novel, and is getting good reviews from a number of well-known authors and reviewers.
“With atmosphere so thick you can breathe it, and characters so real you can touch them, Reavis Z. Wortham’s Burrows is a book worth putting all others aside to read. Clear a space on your bookshelves, folks, because the real deal has arrived.”
—John Gilstrap, author of Threat Warning and Damage Control
“Wortham’s outstanding sequel to The Rock Hole (2011)… combines the gonzo sensibility of Joe R. Lansdale and the elegiac mood of To Kill a Mockingbird to strike just the right balance between childhood innocence and adult horror.”
—Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“In Burrows, Reavis Wortham juxtaposes gruesome crimes with a bucolic sixties landscape. It’s a surprisingly intense combination that kept me awake nights after not being able to put the book down. Wortham’s writing makes scenes and characters come to life.”
—Charlotte Rains Dixon, author of Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior and Director Emeritus of the Writer’s Loft
“A ripping good tale.”
—Jan Reid, author of Comanche Sundown
“An excellent read filled with tension-filled action scenes.”
Burrows should be a novel that makes folks sit up and take notice…I hope. Give it a read and let me know what you think about this mystery thriller that has been referred to as Stephen King meets To Kill a Mockingbird.
Hope to see you at a signing soon. They are listed at http://www.reaviszwortham.com.