by Ben Rehder
The fourth Blanco County mystery. In this entry, game warden John Marlin helps the police to search for a missing SUV owner who may have drowned in a flash flood, while a local lowlife's house burns down in what seems to be a meth-related explosion. Marlin suspects that the two incidents are somehow connected, and they are – but in true Rehder fashion, the plot has dozens of disparate threads that intersect. The main story involves a state senator who has a rather embarrassing kink, being blackmailed with photos of his proclivities, to force him to ban the controversial high fences around properties which stop deer from migrating freely. There’s also a missing Corvette and charity money, a lowlife and a party girl on the lam, a would-be country star turned hit man, a pet psychic, a creepy stalker, and of course the loveable louts Red and Billy Don. Marlin’s problem is that his oldest friend, Phil, appears to be implicated in the blackmail; and then there’s his crush Nichole, putting herself in danger as well. I know that Rehder’s frequent, staccato character and setting changes, especially during action scenes, may irritate some readers, but I find his rapid-fire, red-herring style engaging. Well-paced and intricately plotted, with sly humor, goofy characters, and a few moments of suspense, this book is on a par with the other books in the series. Over the top mayhem makes for fast-paced, diverting fun.