Book Review: Readings

Blanco County's crime-solving game warden John Marlin is back.

Readings

Holy Moly

by Ben Rehder
St. Martin's Minotaur, 352 pp., $24.95

Ben Rehder's crime-solving game warden John Marlin is back, and he's sure got his hands full this time out. A backhoe driver has been murdered with a bow and arrow, a priceless dinosaur fossil is missing, a deer rancher is selling breeding stock of questionable origin, and someone is attempting to sabotage Marlin's upcoming wedding to lady-love Nicole Brooks. The arrival of televangelist Peter Boothe in Blanco County sets the plot action in motion in Hill Country author Rehder's newest mystery, Holy Moly. The money-grubbing "pastorpreneur" plans to build a huge religious center in rural Blanco County, to more effectively fleece potential members of his flock from the nearby cities of Austin and San Antonio. The construction project hits a snag when backhoe operator Hollis Farley turns up dead. Marlin and Sheriff Bobby Garza soon discover that Farley had unearthed a rare dinosaur fossil which has since disappeared, and the list of possible murder suspects is intertwined with the list of folks who want to destroy the fossil, preserve it for scientific study, or sell it to the highest bidder. The wacky characters involved in the fossil caper are among some of Rehder's best: Pastor Pete; his oversexed wife, Vanessa; and their con-artist minion, Alex Pringle; a Houston trust-fund baby and fossil collector with bizarre sexual proclivities and his former classmate, a Pam-huffing cyber-geek called Snake; the UT paleontology professor with a dark secret; and that lovable miscreant Billy Don Craddick, who evolves from recliner-bound dullard to shy romantic leading man while comforting Hollis Farley's grieving sister. Early on, Sheriff Garza poses the question: "Why can't we have a normal murder around here? Out here, people gotta get weird?" The short answer, of course, is that weird and wickedly funny is what Rehder does best. And if the discovery of dinosaur fossils can protect the Texas Hill Country from rapacious development, here's hoping there are some out there just waiting to be discovered.


Ben Rehder will appear at Barnes & Noble Sunset Valley (5601 Brodie Ln.) on Tuesday, June 17, at 7pm.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Book Reviews
<i>Presidio</i> by Randy Kennedy
Presidio by Randy Kennedy
For his debut novel, Kennedy creates a road story that portrays the harsh West Texas terrain beautifully and fills it with sympathetic characters.

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 14, 2018

Hunting the Golden State Killer in <i>I'll Be Gone in the Dark</i>
Hunting the Golden State Killer in I'll Be Gone in the Dark
How Michelle McNamara tracked a killer before her untimely death

Jonelle Seitz, July 20, 2018

More by Virginia B. Wood
Top 10 Savory Bites
Top 10 Savory Bites

Jan. 1, 2016

Open Secret
Open Secret
The not-so-hidden pleasures of dine

Dec. 25, 2015

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Holy Moly

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle