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The Rock Hole (Red River Mystery #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  492 Ratings  ·  86 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, h
Paperback, 250 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Poisoned Pen Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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It has been a long time since I enjoyed a book so much. There were many times I laughed, cussed and yelled in the car while listening this to the book. Reavis Wortham has created a intense thriller wrapped up in a coming of age story.

The book starts straight away with the mystery that Constable Ned Parker is trying to solve before it gets out of hand. The book then eases into a great coming of age story for Ned’s grandson Top but the author just waits until your comfortable with this part and t
Jun 27, 2015 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.
A Hoopla reading of this first book in this series of Wortham's Red River series. I can honestly say this may be my favorite crime-mystery book of 2017. I plan to continue the series with much anticipation that the remainder of the books in the series are 5* as well. I discovered Reavis Z. Wortham while looking through Hoopla for authors similar to my other western flavored crime-mystery books. So glad I found him. Traber Burns was excellent in his reading also.
Sep 03, 2012 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
Cathy Cole
Aug 22, 2014 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
Sep 22, 2013 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!
Feb 01, 2013 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
May 21, 2013 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 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
Aug 24, 2014 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
Sep 07, 2012 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
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
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish this book. I gave up on it after listening to the audio version for a couple of hours. The characters and the small town are all too cardboard cut-out for me.
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the writing and the story was excellent. I want to read another one.
Aug 25, 2014 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 21, 2011 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 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
Aug 05, 2012 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
Ron Baird
Aug 11, 2011 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 07, 2011 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! :)
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.
Hopeton Hay
Sep 19, 2011 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.
Brian Southworth
Nov 03, 2012 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!
Sandra Brannan
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SUCH a great new author! A must read for those lookign for the newest thrill.
Michael Melara
Dec 09, 2011 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.
Jan 15, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
enjoyable, old time justice prevails.
Tia Jah
Aug 09, 2012 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.
Aug 13, 2012 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 14, 2012 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 9 Jul 11, 2011 01:28PM  
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Reavis Z. Wortham retired in 2011 and now works harder than before as the author of the critically acclaimed Red River historical mystery series. Kirkus Reviews listed his first novel, The Rock Hole, as one of their Top 12 Mysteries of 2011. True West Magazine included Dark Places as one of 2015’s Top 12 Modern Westerns. The Providence Journal writes, “This year's Unraveled is a hidden gem of a bo ...more
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