Minotaur, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by Tim Davis
opens, a thirty-year-old Texan named Hollis Farley has just purchased a sixty-inch plasma television, even though he can't afford it, and that glorious acquisition - as innocent as it would seem - is actually the beginning of Farley's problems.
hile watching his new television, Farley first discovers the television evangelist Peter Boothe, a '
sort of a cross between Mr. Rogers and a used-car salesman
', whose prosperity gospel has intrigued countless souls; then later, while operating a backhoe at the construction site for Boothe's multi-million-dollar new church on the banks of the Pedernales River, Farley stumbles upon a controversial discovery that causes more than a few jaws to drop; then, shortly after his discovery and making everything even worse, Farley gets himself killed.
he law enforcement officials investigate Farley's death, but rather than having too few clues to work with they instead have an alarming abundance of
persons of interest
and likely suspects. The questionable characters include an aging environmentalist, an unpleasant college professor, a singular collector of fossils, a minister's seductive wife, and others in a long-list of eccentric Blanco County personalities.
uick, witty, and full of surprises,
rapidly evolves into a fun-filled cautionary tale about avarice, deceit, betrayal, and - of course - murder. If Jonathan Swift had been strapped into a time machine and transported to Texas, and if he had tried his hand at writing no-holds-barred mystery fiction,
would have been typical of his output.
ith social satire that is a sharp as a hungry coyote's teeth and an overall narrative style that is as darkly entertaining as an armadillo's against-all-the-odds attempts to safely cross a west Texas interstate highway,
finalist Ben Rehder, the author of five previous novels, is a darn good writer who knows how to tell a great story, and - at the same time, with his tongue-not-so-firmly-in-his-cheek - he is able to sagaciously gore plenty of American society's sacred cows (especially religion, science, law enforcement, and all the befuddling weaknesses human beings so readily fall prey to in their everyday lives).
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