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Book review: <i>The Texas Twist</i> by John Vorhaus

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the cover of the book

Radar Hoverlander is back in a fast paced, hilarious tale of double-triple-crosses, big cons, and just trying to get along with as much money as possible.

The story

Radar Hoverlander, Allie Quinn and Vic Mirplo have a nice little apartment in Austin, having come out on top after the last con they pulled - The Albuquerque Turkey, and they are all pretty happy... although Radar is starting to feel the money, and the cons, taking their toll on him. They're settling into Austin well and making friends with the neighbours, especially Sarah, who Allie has befriended. Sarah has an incurably sick son and a heart of gold, so when Sarah comes to Allie and Radar and tells them she's met a man with a miracle cure, they both worry that Sarah is the victim of a scam they are all too familiar with.

Sarah agrees to have Radar meet with Adam, the man with the cure, under the proviso that if Radar thinks he's a fake she'll back off the cure. From the word go, Radar knows there's something suss about Adam, but he can't quite figure Adam's long game, and Sarah gets further and further embroiled in Adam's web.

Allie realises that she knows Adam from when she used to pull cons several lifetimes ago, and suspects there's more to this than just coincidence. Radar, Allie and Vic decide it's time to get to the bottom of the plot, but the deeper they go the thicker it gets. Is everybody involved but them? And who's playing who? In the shady world of cons and every changing sides, anyone could change sides at any moment and Radar starts to wonder why he's playing this game at all.

The style

I was first introduced to John Vorhaus in a non-fiction capacity, when I read How to Write Good. And that was great, but as someone who prefers fiction to non-fiction The Texas Twist impressed me even more. The storyline is fantastic, twisting (like the title! Hah!) all over the show, keeping the reader on their toes and desperate to turn the page. I think what I appreciate the most about Vorhaus is you can tell he legitimately loves the English language. He's creative with it, he knows how to make it work, and the way he flaunts his way with words, flings them around in ways you weren't expecting and then brings them back into order is a marvel to behold. As someone who has a weakness for that kind of cleverness I was snickering quietly to myself in airport waiting rooms and bus stops, wishing I could tell someone about it.

The point of view is third person limited, slipping between Radar, Allie and Vic's views for each chapter. During the chapters where none of them appear the writing is factual and descriptive, giving nothing away in the motivation of the more minor characters. It keeps the sense of mystery and urgency till the end, and keeps the whole novel feeling like a desperate page turner.

Like most of the books I've read recently, The Texas Twist came with me on numerous bus trips, plane trips, beach lounges and temples, and it didn't last long enough. It was the perfect accompaniment, and I definitely intend to catch up on my Radar reading with the first two novels, and will definitely be getting my hands on the next one.

Who is this book for?

If you love reading/watching things about cons and con artists... and let's be fair, the popularity of Oceans Eleven and Twelve, and Catch Me If You Can, etc, makes me think that EVERYBODY loves cons and con artists... then this book is for you. Not only does it explain the working of cons and the mentality of con artists it also speaks volumes about human nature in a manner that is both complex and quirky. Also if you love a good flirtation with the English language you will love this.

If you like this book, you would also like...

Try Mr Vorhaus's other books, the earlier Radars. And if you want to know anything about writing, his non-fictions are just as compelling and helpful. And keep your eyes out for the next Radar, it's coming!

In short

Title: The Texas Twist
Author: John Vorhaus
Publisher: Prospect Park Books
ISBN: 978-1-938849-07-7
Year published: 2013
Pages: 306
Genre(s): Detective fiction (sort of)
Review Type: