Top 5 Modern Westerns by True West Magazine
"Loaded with healthy doses of humor, adventure, and intrigue, populated by a remarkable cast of characters both good and bad and featuring one heck of an electrifying climax is a throwback to the pulp era in the best possible sense." Owen Laukkanen, bestselling author
By October 1967, the Summer of Love is history, rock and roll is dark and revolutionary, and people in the small East Texas community of Center Springs want only a quiet life. Unluckily, two years earlier, Anthony Agrioli met newlyweds Cody and Norma Faye Parker in a Vegas casino and heard their enthusiastic descriptions of Center Springs as the perfect place to settle down and raise a family. Now handsome hit man Agrioli and a blonde bombshell full of surprises need a place to hide out and, if possible, duck retribution from his Las Vegas crime boss.
Thirteen-year-old Top Parker has what his grandmother, Miss Becky, calls a Poisoned Gift. His dreams, though random and disconnected, always seem to come true. This time Top dreams he's a wagon wheel with spokes converging from all directions. To him, the spokes symbolize that something is coming. And it is, Center Springs will soon become a combat zone when a squad of gangsters arrives. Oddly, they're after something else. Not Agrioli yet. Add a sheriff crooked as a dog's hind leg, an unsolved murder in the river bottoms, counterfeit money, and a bank robbery to this country-noir Shakespearian comedy, cast it with Wortham's real and sometimes wacky characters including a constable and a judge, and the outcomes become unpredictable.
Big city excitement and violence come to quiet Center Springs, Tex., in Wortham's homespun fourth Red River mystery (after 2013's The Right Side of Wrong). In the fall of 1967, Las Vegas hit man Tony Agrioli and his new girlfriend, Samantha Chesterfield, decide Center Springs is "the perfect place to settle down and start a family." Two years earlier in Vegas, Tony met honeymooners Cody Parker, a Center Springs constable, and his bride, Norma Faye Parker, who spoke highly of their hometown. Unfortunately for almost everyone, one of Center Spring's leading citizens also has ties to Las Vegas, and Constable Ned Parker, Cody's uncle, is soon dealing with an unsolved murder, counterfeit money, and a bank robbery. The appealing cast includes 13-year-old Top, Ned's grandson, and Top's cousin, Pepper (also 13), who chafes at life in the country. Wortham pays homage to a disappearing way of life in this thoughtful series.