By Valerie Chandler
Burrows, the second book of Reavis Z. Wortham’s Red River series, is a page-turner and a satisfying read. In 1964, in North Texas along the Red River, young constable Cody Parker, recently back from Vietnam, has his hands full. An escaped lunatic has already left dead bodies in Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. So when a body is discovered in the Red River, it looks like the killer is in the area. To add to Cody’s problems, his young cousins, Pepper and Top, are always underfoot and causing trouble. Cody’s uncle, retired constable Ned Parker, can’t break his habit of following hunches and does some of his own investigating while trying to reassure the town that Cody is fully capable.
Their investigations lead both Cody and Ned to the Cotton Exchange over in the next town, Chisum. They believe the killer is inside a hoarder’s nest crammed three stories high with junk. It’s a masterful feat of engineering, complete with deadly booby traps and a maze of tunnels. Cody and fellow officer, Deputy Big John Washington, volunteer to enter and as soon as they do, the entrance collapses. The only way out is forward and they hope that Cody’s experience as a tunnel rat in Vietnam will get them out alive. Ned and the rest of the town have to wait outside during the ordeal, wondering if the officers are even still alive.
Wortham skillfully captures 1960’s Texas culture and language while also providing a great mystery. He places the reader right in the musty, stinky, death trap, every stifling inch of the way. It was so descriptive, I sometimes had trouble breathing and he made me squirm more than once! He does an excellent job of pacing and adding tension. Just when one problem is overcome, there is another to face. I had to keep turning pages to see what happened next.