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The Rock Hole (Red River Mystery #1)

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  206 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews

In 1964, farmer and part-time Constable Ned Parker combine forces with John Washington, the almost mythical black deputy sheriff from nearby Paris, to track down a disturbed individual who is rapidly becoming a threat to the entire small Texas community of Center Springs.When Ned is summoned to a hot cornfield one morning to examine the remains of a tortured bird dog, he f
Paperback, 250 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Poisoned Pen Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 408)
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Aug 01, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book but it was not my favorite in the series. Top and Pepper continue to crack me up and can never resist putting themselves right in the middle of trouble.
Jun 22, 2014 Jerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was fully prepared NOT to enjoy reading this book, because the only writing of Reavis Z. Wortham's that I had previously experienced was his outdoor humor column that's syndicated to several newspapers in the region. I occasionally read his hunting and fishing articles in The Paris News when the mood strikes me, and I like down-home anecdotes as well as the next man, but I can only take so many of them and in small doses. I wasn't sure if I could make it through an entire book full of colloqui ...more
Sep 22, 2013 Denise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I enjoyed the book, and I was thrilled that our book club had the chance to both meet the author before we read it and then discussed the book with him via Skype at our last meeting. What a treat!
Cathy Cole
Sep 18, 2014 Cathy Cole rated it it was amazing
I had a feeling that I was going to enjoy this first book in Reavis Z. Wortham's Red River mystery series, but I had no idea that I would love it and immediately go back to the bookstore to buy the rest of the series. As I read The Rock Hole, I was reminded of another perfect evocation of a time, a place, and the loss of innocence: William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace. Wortham's carefully chosen details, eccentric characters, and country humor transported me to a small town in Texas in 1964, an ...more
Feb 05, 2013 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like reading authors I have met! Mr. Wortham was the Director of Communications for GISD and came to speak about his books at Garland Retired. Since I grew up across the OK border from his setting on the Red River, I really enjoyed the trip back in time. I am a litte older than his protagonist, but I remember well many of the local color touches. I haven't heard terms like "hidey" or "I swanney" in years. I also remember biting the tops off a wax cola bottle to drink the flavored syrup inside. ...more
Sep 22, 2013 Ronna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE ROCK HOLE is an unusual combination of old time Texas humor and chilling thriller. The year is 1964, and these small communities are mostly segregated by white, black, and American Indians. Ned Parker is the white Constable, who is married to an Indian; best friends with the Black Deputy Sheriff, John Washington; uncle to Cody, a brave Vietnam war veteran; and forever friend of an old codger, Judge O. C.Rains. After a car crash killed his parents, ten year old Top, has come to live with his ...more
C.C. Thomas
Jan 03, 2012 C.C. Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Set in 1960's post-Vietnam in a small border community of Texas and Oklahoma, this book had more depth than I am used in a mystery. Usually, even with graphic, gritty mysteries, I can allow my mind to simply skip along and not have to worry too much about characterization or intricate plot twists. Not so with this selection.

An animal mutilator and torturer is on the loose. It's simply a matter of time before his victims turn to humans. Aging Constable Ned is afraid the killer is a member of his
Byron Lord
Sep 01, 2014 Byron Lord rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Rock Hole is a marvelous story of family, community, love and evil. Set in the 60’s, in rural Texas, we watch a wonderful relationship between Grandpa Ned Parker, farmer, pillar of the community, and part time constable and his 10 year old grandson Top. We share the love they share and learn about the citizens of a small Texas town: Center Springs. We also watch as a budding serial killer unfolds and his acts of evil and terror escalate first on small animals and then larger animals and ulti ...more
Sydney Young
This book had some really good moments and also was a great nostalgic trip. I liked all the characters, but especially liked Top's voice. I thought the mystery was well done, too, with just enough red herrings. I did find a number of typos, but it wasn't too distracting. Glad for a small press like the Poisoned Pen to publish works like these -- I'm SO bored with the top ten list big names that just crank out the same books with different titles. Rock Hole has some magic to it. I think it would ...more
I was very impressed with this novel written by Reavis Wortham. The novel is set in Northeast Texas during 1964. At times, The Rock Hole is a suspenseful novel that keeps you on the edge of you seat and at other times has you laughing out loud. I thought he was spot on with his portrayal of small town life in Texas. The daily activities of the characters in the book made me reminisce about my own childhood in rural Texas. This book was everything I expected and more. I anxiously await a second n ...more
Dec 25, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the writing and the story was excellent. I want to read another one.
Oct 09, 2014 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-reads-2014
I was introduced to the writings of Reavis Z. Wortham after reading an interview the author gave and a book review of the Rock Hole. I am very glad that I read the two articles as I then purchased The Rock Hole. There is much to like about The Rock Hole.

It takes the reader back to the summer of 1964 in north east Texas close to the Oklahoma border. The book was quite atmospheric for me. I could visualize the scenes and the locations. I could feel the heat, the dust, the rain and the wind. That w
Mar 23, 2011 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a gem of a book! Poisoned Pen Press has discovered a new author whose writing is a delight. Set in 1964 on the banks of the Red River on the Texas Oklahoma border this historical mystery keeps you turning the pages. The author, Reavis Wortham, takes the reader back to a time that was not that long ago but in many ways was. American society has completely changed in the past fifty years. It is a reminder to us all that fifty years ago a person of color could not enter any business that they ...more
Feb 08, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: texas-mystery
The Rock Hole is a mystery set in north Texas in a community bordering the Red River. The time is 1964 and Top, a ten-year-old boy who has been sent to live with his grandparents, is the narrator of the story. Ned, Top's grandfather,is the constable of this small community and has been concerned about a series of animal mutilations which could only have been committed by a sadistic individual.
Thrown into the mix is a young Indian boy, Top's girl cousin, Pepper, and a whole cast of rural characte
Jan 06, 2013 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a GREAT Mystery novel! With the setting on the Red River bottomlands of the border with Oklahoma, this story is full of the people and the lore of deep East Texas in the 60s; the setting being the main character. The people of this region, black & white, young & old, are all fully and deeply envisioned. The core mystery surrounds a series of animal carcasses and the search for a deranged person nicknamed "The Skinner". Chilling, this story will pull you through to the end and sc ...more
Sep 12, 2012 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
The second book in this series was recommended to me, but I like to start at the beginning of things so I picked this one up. I will not be reading the second one..with a new POV every chapter, sometimes in 1st person (as Top) but mostly in 3rd, and some characters getting only a chapter or two to call their own, the writing style is disjointed. I also felt like Wortham had to convince me (and himself) too much that Ned's family was color-blind when it came to race relations. The actual mystery ...more
Ron Baird
Aug 11, 2011 Ron Baird rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best mystery I've read in years. Given my rural tastes it won't be for everybody but if you liked Winter's Bone, I think you'll like this. Poisoned Pen Press should be congratulated for publishing it. Reavis Wortham has done for rural Texas in the '60s what Daniel Woodrell has done for the
Ozarks, blemishes and ignorance, honor and loyalty. Goodreads should be shot, however for
this annoying pop-up ad that makes it almost impossible to write this.
Danielle Woods
Dec 27, 2011 Danielle Woods rated it it was amazing
I met this author over the weekend and picked up his book. I'm excited to start reading it! I also got my book autographed :)

I really enjoyed this book. It took me a couple of chapters to really get into it but I really enjoyed the plot and the characeters. I even had a couple heart-racing moments! I definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for a new author and a good murder mystery! :)
Jun 21, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
An interesting mystery thriller set in 1964 Chisum Texas, "The Rock Hole", was a nostalgic and a very enjoyable read. Protagonist "Top", the kid is just 10 but growing up far quicker than most kids his age. Living with his grandparents, Top has nightmares dreaming of drowning at The Rock hole. Finding a role model in his cool Uncle Cody, Top suffers from a very bad case of asthma. Tormented daily by cousin Pepper adds to the stress of Top growing up on his grandparents farm. Grandpa Ned Parker i ...more
This area in Texas is where my parents grew up.
The names of the little towns are real, like Blossom
and Hugo, I know well. I remember the stories of the
wild boar hunts. It was interesting the sheriff of the town
being protective of his part Indian wife since I am part Cherokee.
I don't know if someone not familiar with the area would
like it as much as I did.
Sep 29, 2014 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
This series is set in the late 1960s in Texas and revolves around a young boy, Top and his family.
Tops Grandfather is Sheriff Ned Parker and comes across as a gruff man with a heart of gold and an immense love for Miss Becky, his wife.
Top and his cousin Pepper, a girl with a very clean mouth because Miss Becky is forever washing it out with soap, get into scraps and troubles while growing up throughout the series. These stories provide a snapshot in time of the 60s and life in a small town, an
Brian Southworth
Nov 07, 2012 Brian Southworth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

The Poisoned Pen Press got a great Author here in Reavis Z.Wortham! This book was fantastic! A western mystery taken place in Texas in the 60's.Great writing with fun characters that will stick with the reader.If you are a fan of mystery novels, don't pass this one up!
Hopeton Hay
Sep 19, 2011 Hopeton Hay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent mystery which looks at life in Texas in 1960s. While a constable searches for a serial killer, we see the world through the eyes of his 10 year-old grandson which is hilarious. It reminds me a bit of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Tia Jah
Aug 09, 2012 Tia Jah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in a small community in Texas in 1964, the details about life ring true. The pacing was just right, the characters were believable, and the mystery was gruesomely good. I really enjoyed this one.
Michael Melara
Feb 20, 2012 Michael Melara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written coming of age in the mid 60's story built around an intriguing murder mystery. The author gives great flavor of West Texas Border town in 1964. The characters are very believable.
Aug 13, 2012 Debra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in the 1960s on the Red River between Oklahoma and Texas--shades of "To Kill a Mockingbird" with kids and a constable grandfather and not-glossed-over crimes.
Oct 16, 2015 Francis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kinda like 'To Kill a Mockingbird', but a lot more like 'The Bottoms' by Joe R. Lansdale, a coming of age tale taking place in the South and in a different era. I enjoyed this book, the characterizations were great, the time and the place seemed to be captured just right. Too bad the author relied too much on violence and a high body count to maintain the tension. It wasn't necessary and subtracted rather than added to the story.

Overall, I was impressed. I hope the author's next effort focuses m
Kevin Matthews
Mar 27, 2015 Kevin Matthews rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Careful - Hard to put this down till you finish!

Many have tried to capture the 1960s but not to many do it without pushing a broader agenda or the reruns we are all familiar with. This is set in rural, agricultural Northeast Texas, and Reavis Wortham does an incredible job not just with the crime mystery, but painting a vivid picture of people, places and a time not so long ago but which is sadly becoming just a memory as rural America is replaced by a civilization based on television, Internet
Sandra Brannan
May 20, 2013 Sandra Brannan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SUCH a great new author! A must read for those lookign for the newest thrill.
Oct 18, 2012 Christina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book....surprisingly so.
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New author has it "write" 1 8 Jul 11, 2011 01:28PM  
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As a boy, award-winning writer, Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for the fictional setting for THE ROCK HOLE. He was born in Paris, Texas, but lived in Dallas. “We grew up in the city and went to school there, but every Friday evening my parents put us in the car and made the 120-mile drive to Chicota, where we truly lived at my grandparent ...more
More about Reavis Z. Wortham...

Other Books in the Series

Red River Mystery (6 books)
  • Burrows
  • The Right Side of Wrong
  • Vengeance is Mine
  • Dark Places
  • Unraveled

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