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by Reavis Z Wortham

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The small, rural Northeast Texas community of Center Springs has seen its share of troubles during the 1960s, everything from kidnapping, murder, and bank robbery. By 1968, the residents think life has finally quieted down, but they find their peaceful way of life is quickly spinning out of control as a decades-long family feud between the Clays and Mayfields once


The small, rural Northeast Texas community of Center Springs has seen its share of troubles during the 1960s, everything from kidnapping, murder, and bank robbery. By 1968, the residents think life has finally quieted down, but they find their peaceful way of life is quickly spinning out of control as a decades-long family feud between the Clays and Mayfields once again flares to life.

Fourteen-year-old Top Parker who lives with his grandparents Constable Ned Parker and Miss Becky in a little farmhouse near the Red River finds himself caught up in another adult situation sparked by a mysterious fatal single car accident involving the white mayor of Chisum and his black female assistant. Questions and accusations arise about their relationship as the families wreak vengeance on each other.

But what is the significance of a man calling himself the Wraith, who moves through the region at will, invading homes and watching the Parkers? What is Maggie Clay’s secret? That she’s half white and married to a black man with a long criminal past? And was Mayor Frank Clay, the only bright spot in a dark and cruel family, really what everyone thinks he is?

It’s a busy time for Sheriff Cody Parker, who finds himself a possible suspect in the murder of several residents. He takes the advice from his Deputy John Washington and removes himself from the investigation, giving free reign to both John and Deputy Anna Sloan as they try and unravel the answers by following different paths.

The ending will leave you staggering as the families clash on a small battlefield and the killer is finally revealed in a most unexpected way. These aren’t the 1960s that most Baby Boomers remember.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In Center Springs, TX, Constable Ned Parker investigates a fatal car accident involving mayor Fred Clay and his African American assistant, Maggie Mayfield. It is 1968, and the incident will rekindle a long-running feud between two families. This superbly drawn sixth entry in the series (after Dark Places) features captivating characters and an authentic Texas twang.
Kirkus Reviews
A sixth journey back in time to Center Springs, Texas, in 1968 reveals a family feud ready to claim more victims.There’s been bad blood between the Clays and the Mayfields ever since a dispute over a lame mule Randall Clay sold Old Man Mayfield during the Depression. The simmering antipathy between the two clans flares into new life when a car runs off the roadway spanning the Lake Lamar dam, killing both Mayor Frank Clay and Maggie Mayfield. What were the two doing in the same vehicle, and why did whichever of them was driving lose control of the car? Despite the steadying influence of Constable Ned Parker and Sheriff Cody Parker, Wes Clay, the mayor’s big brother, and Hollis Mayfield, Maggie’s father-in-law, are each quick to blame the other family for the two deaths. And the bad blood between them darkens with the murders of Merle Mayfield, acting mayor Joe Bill Haynes, and, yes, Hollis Mayfield. Wortham (Dark Places, 2015, etc.) makes it clear from the beginning, however, that the real culprit is a loner calling himself the Wraith who’s playing the Clays and the Mayfields off against each other for his own murderous ends. Readers anxious to spot the Wraith as 15-year-old Top Parker, Ned’s grandson and Cody’s nephew, might as well relax; the extended climax at the Patterson and Bates Dreamland Exposition will find them still shaking their heads in bemusement, trying to remember who’s related to whom and who’s carrying a grudge against whom.Despite the high body count and obligatory peeks inside the killer’s mind, both mystery and suspense are subordinated to a leisurely survey of the locals, whose numbers seem only to increase as they’re killed off.
NetGalley - Kathryn Poulin
Unraveled is the sixth Red River Mystery by Reavis Z. Wortham. I love this series. I have read all six books in the series and found them all to be fabulous reads.~~~ I cannot recommend this series enough. It is perfect for fans of recent history as well as mystery lovers. I highly recommend Unraveled.
NetGalley - Cathy Cole
Wortham's Red River mysteries work on so many different levels. As a coming of age story. As a pitch-perfect historical saga. As a police procedural. As visceral action tales. (And humor, too!) I have come to rely upon this author to present me with fine tales well told, and I have no intentions of missing a single one. You shouldn't either.
Bookloons - Mary Ann Smyth
Reavis Z. Wortham's Unraveled is the kind of book you simply can't put down once you have read the first page. Give it a try. You'll agree with me.
Suspense Magazine - Mary Lignor
The plot comes together perfectly as a battlefield reminiscent of the infamous Hatfields and McCoys appears. The killer is unexpectedly exposed, and the characters in Red River remain strong, intriguing and a bit frightening all at the same time.
Providence Journal - Jon Land
Reavis Wortham seems to be channeling both John Hart and Greg Isles in "Unraveled" (Poisoned Pen, $26.95, 336 pages), the sixth in the Red River period piece mystery series. I haven't read the five others, but if they're anything like this, I'm definitely missing something.~~~Not only does Wortham write exceptionally well, but he somehow manages to infuse "Unraveled" with a Southern gothic feel what would make even William Faulkner proud.~~~To a mix that already includes a Hatfield-McCoy-like feud, a mysterious stranger known only as Wraith, and a small town lurching away from its own racially toned past, Wortham gives us the Parker family as the book's moral center. That family includes 14-year-old Top, who reads like a hybrid of Huckleberry Finn and Scout from "To Kill a Mockingbird."~~~Like Greg Isles' superb Natchez, Mississippi, trilogy, Wortham's portrayal of the modern South (well, 1968 in this case) is both scathing and hopeful, laced with racial overtones that lend "Unraveled" a weighty societal relevance. A hidden gem of a book that reads like Craig Johnson's Longmire mysteries on steroids.
Booklist - Don Crinklaw
Readers who hang on for 200-plus pages of these days in the lives will be treated to a stunning finale, first in an evil fun house, then on a long stretch of oil-slick highway.
InJoyful Book Reviews - Carolyn Injoy-Hertz
Unraveled: A Red River Mystery by Reavis Z. Wortham is a mesmerizing book about a small Northeast Texas community of Center Springs. The dialogue was crisp & true to regional speech patterns. The characters were well drawn & the story line intriguing. I gave it five stars.~~~It kept me guessing & I like that. I highly recommend this book & will read more of this author's work.

Product Details

Poisoned Pen Press
Publication date:
Red River Mysteries Series , #6
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

As a boy, award-winning writer Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for his fictional Center Springs. The author of Doreen’s 24 HR Eat Gas Now Café as well as the acclaimed Red River mysteries, Reavis is humor editor and frequent contributor for Texas Fish and Game Magazine, writing on everything from fishing to deer hunting. His work has also appeared in American Cowboy, Texas Sporting Journal, and several other magazines. A retired educator of 35 years, he and wife Shana live in Frisco, Texas.

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