“Bones of the Rain” by Russ Hall

  What’s a girly-girl like me doing reviewing a hard boiled mystery? After all, hard-nose detectives, bar-room brawls and corrupt businessmen are far from fun and frothy. But after reading “Bones of the Rain,” I couldn’t resist writing about the notorious “Blue Eyed Indian” and his fearless, gun-toting sidekick, Cassie Winnick.

When Travis gets dragged to the Kasperville Folk Festival, he expected a lazy weekend in a sleepy Hill Country town filled with middle age hippies reliving their Woodstock days. But just before he could sit for a spell and tap his boots to the folksy blues, the festival shuts down after Austin music star Trish Mirandez is found dead in her dressing room.

Trav soon finds Kasperville isn’t such a friendly place for half-breed Indians after an ‘Injun’ hating cop, Alvin Turnball busts out a Texas-sized can of whoop ass. Suspended for unnecessary roughness, Alvin sets out on a warpath to finish what he started.

Broken, bruised and down on his luck, Travis returns to Austin to lick his wounds with a bottle of “cactus juice.” He soon finds himself in a hot mess of trouble when his music pals ask him to investigate a shady record label owner who may be swindling their royalties. Things really get complicated when he discovers Trish Mirandez’s murder may be connected to an Austin serial killer who has a major beef with prominent, successful women.

With a little help from his friends – including a critter-hording computer genius, a desperate reporter and a feisty gun-wielding vigilante – Trav discovers a connection between the two cases. And as the pieces come together, Trav realizes the people he trusts know more than they’re telling.

Suspenseful from the get-go, “Bones of the Rain” is centered around a compelling plot with one heck of a villain and two main characters you will come to care deeply about. This blogger was guessing all the way to the end as Trav and Cassie closed in on the killer and a motive no one saw coming!

Hall’s style blends the roller-coaster ride pacing of Rick Riordan with the East Texas down-home humor of Joe Lansdale. And like Lansdale and Riordan, Russ draws on the colorful character of his locale – in this case Austin’s music scene – to pepper his narrative. Austinites will especially enjoy the scenes at some of Austin’s most beloved landmarks. Boy am I craving a Huts hamburger right about now!

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