Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"The Right Side of Wrong"

Reavis Z. Wortham is the author of The Rock Hole, hailed by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Top 12 Mystery Novels of 2011. A finalist for the Benjamin Franklin Award, the second novel in this Red River Series, Burrows, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Wortham applied the Page 69 Test to the newly released third novel in the Red River Series, The Right Side of Wrong, and reported the following:
I’ve been fascinated by the accuracy of the Page 69 test since I first heard about it. Once again, this brief glimpse gives a clear insight into this novel and its characters, even though only two players are engaged at this point in time.

This time period (1966) was full of change as the country evolved from a primarily rural society to an urban environment. Though the U.S. race to the moon was well underway, a large part of the population still scratched a hard living from the ground. In The Right Side of Wrong, the small community of Center Springs is a microcosm of life, and the social and civil changes going on in this country.

A mountain of a man, John Washington is Lamar County’s first “colored” deputy sheriff and an integral part of the Parker family in northeast Texas. Ned and Cody Parker are constables on the trail of a murdering gang of drug dealers who are establishing a pipeline for drugs coming up from Mexico.

Always a loner, Big John met Rachel Lea at her home on a dusty country road when she encountered those who are killing off everyone in their way. Raising a house full of kids in her unpainted shack, Rachel Lea sees something she likes in the deputy, who shares her feelings.

John also shares the same beliefs as Ned, Cody, and Judge O.C. Rains. Any time folks in the area need help, they are always reaching into their pockets to buy groceries, medicine, or even kerosene for the oil lamps that light the hardscrabble homes.

Ned’s precocious grandkids, Top and Pepper, continue to find themselves in the middle of everything, both good and bad. As the body count rises, a mysterious old man arrives in Center Springs, and a drug war commences. When Cody chases the killers across Texas and into Mexico, he is arrested and thrown into a prison, where death is only days away. Ned and John follow him and cross the Rio Grande, and to the right side of wrong, to save Cody and stop the flow of drugs.

The Page 69 test also gives you the flavor of the speech patterns that define the small community of Center Springs, in which both races struggle to co-exist in a rapidly changing world.

From page 69:
“I figgered you had a garden. Y’all ain’t starvin’. You’re just po’.”

“That’s how I’ve lived my life.”

He rose. “All right, then. I might be back from time to time, but don’t be surprised when a truck comes at daylight to pick y’all up.”

John rubbed a couple of little heads and stepped into the sunshine. When he got to his car, the woman’s voice stopped him.

“John Washington!”

He stopped and rested his arm on the roof of his car.

“My name’s Rachel Lea.”

He grinned. “Good to meet you, Rachel Lea.”

“Not all these kids is mine.”

When John raised his eyebrows in question, she gave a laugh. “Belle and Bubba there, the two oldest are mine. The rest belonged to my sister. She and her husband got killed six months ago and I took ’em in.”

He waited.

“She liked makin’ babies!”

John chuckled and opened the car door. “So it’s you and them kids here all alone.”

“I tol’ you the truth. Husband run off a while back and good riddance, he weren’t no’count, nohow.” She lifted a hand. “Next time you come by, you stay for supper, John Washington. I believe I’d like to cook you a bite.”

“I might do that.”

“Where’d you say all these groceries come from?”

He didn’t want to tell her that Judge Rains and Ned had given him money when he told them he planned to drop by. They were constantly buying food for people with little or no means, but it was always quiet.

“Folks that care.”
Learn more about the book and author at Reavis Z. Wortham's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Rock Hole.

My Book, The Movie: The Rock Hole.

The Page 69 Test: Burrows.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Reavis Z. Wortham and Willie.

--Marshal Zeringue