Southtown (Tres Navarre Series #5)

Southtown (Tres Navarre Series #5)

by Rick Riordan

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
For Tres Navarre, English professor turned private investigator, business has lately taken a drastic turn south. But if chasing down bail jumpers, adulterous spouses, and workmen’s comp cases seemed like the dregs of the PI game, it was at least a living. Not as much could be said for tracking down a man like Will “the Ghost” Stirman.

The stone-cold killer has just staged a bloody escape from the Floresville State Penitentiary with a gang of violent cons as spooked by Stirman as those on the outside who helped put him behind bars. And no one seems more worried than Navarre’s boss and mentor, Erainya Manos. It was her husband along with rival PI Sam Barrera who built the case that sent Stirman away. But Erainya’s husband is dead and she’s certain Stirman won’t let that stand in the way of his taking revenge against her and her adopted son.

All of Navarre’s instincts are screaming that there’s more to this case than meets the eye. But Erainya won’t tell him—and Sam Barrera seems to be escaping into a strange twilight from a truth too terrible to remember. That leaves Tres to dig into a twisted mystery of greed, vigilantism, and murder, where lives are bought and sold and the line between guilt and innocence is razor-thin. Meanwhile, Stirman and his gang are coming, leaving behind them a trail of brutal, unforgiving violence that will end in an area of San Antonio known as Southtown—but that may soon just as well be called hell on earth.

Don’t miss any of these hotter-than-Texas-chili Tres Navarre novels:

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553583236
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/2004
Series: Tres Navarre Series , #5
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 298,963
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.87(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Rick Riordan is the author of six previous Tres Navarre novels—Big Red Tequila, winner of the Shamus and Anthony Awards; The Widower’s Two-Step, winner of the Edgar Award; The Last King of Texas; The Devil Went Down to Austin; Southtown; and Mission Road. He is also the author of the acclaimed thriller Cold Springs and the young adult novel The Lightning Thief. Rick Riordan lives with his family in San Antonio, Texas.


San Antonio, TX

Date of Birth:

June 5, 1964

Place of Birth:

San Antonio, TX


B.A. in English and History, University of Texas

Read an Excerpt


Fourth of July morning, Will Stirman woke up with blood on his hands.

He’d been dreaming about the men who killed his wife. He’d been strangling them, one with each hand. His fingernails had cut half-moons into his palms.

Sunlight filtered through the barred window, refracted by lead glass and chicken wire. In the berth above, his cell mate, Zeke, was humming “Amazing Grace.”

“Up yet, boss?” Zeke called, excitement in his voice.

Today was the day.

A few more hours. Then one way or the other, Will would never have to have that dream again.

He wiped his palms on the sheets. He shifted over to his workspace—a metal desk with a toadstool seat welded to the floor. Stuck on the walls with Juicy Fruit gum were eight years’ worth of Will’s sketches, fluttering in the breeze of a little green plastic fan. Adam and Eve. Abraham and Isaac. Moses and Pharaoh.

He opened his Bible and took out what he’d done last night—a map instead of a Bible scene.

Behind him, Zeke slipped down from the bunk. He started doing waist twists, his elbows cutting the air above Will’s head. “Freedom sound good, boss?”

“Watch what you say, Zeke.”

“Hell, just Independence Day.” Zeke grinned. “I didn’t mean nothing.”

Zeke had a gap-toothed smile, vacant green eyes, a wide forehead dotted with acne. He was in Floresville State for raping elderly ladies in a nursing home, which didn’t make him the worst sort Will had met. Been abused as a kid, is all. Had some funny ideas about love. Will worried how the boy would do when he got back to the real world.

Will looked over his map of Kingsville, hoping the police would take the bait. He’d labeled most of the major streets, his old warehouse property, the two biggest banks in town, the home of the attorney who’d defended him unsuccessfully in court.

He had a bad feeling about today—a taste like dirty coins in his mouth. He’d had that feeling before, the night he lost Soledad.

Exactly at eight, the cell door buzzed open.

“Come on, boss!” Zeke hustled outside, his shirt still unbuttoned, his shoes in his hands.

Will felt the urge to hurry, too—to respond to the buzzer like a racetrack dog, burst out of his kennel on time. But he forced himself to wait. He looked up to make sure Zeke was really gone. Then he slipped Soledad’s picture out from under his mattress.

It wasn’t a very good sketch. He’d gotten her long dark hair right, maybe, the intensity of her eyes, the soft curve of her face that made her look so young. But it was hard to get her smile, that look of challenge she’d always given him.

Still, it was all he had.

He kissed the portrait, folded it, and tucked it into his shirt.

Something would go wrong with the plan. He could feel it. He knew if he walked out that door, somebody was going to die.

But he’d made a promise.

He put the Kingsville map in the Bible, and set it on the desk where the guards were sure to find it. Then he went to join Zeke on the walkway.

After chow time, Pablo and his cousin Luis were hanging out on the rec yard, trying to avoid Hermandad Pistoleros Latinos. The HPL didn’t like Pablo and Luis getting all religious when they could’ve been dealing for the homeboys.

Luis tried to joke about it, but he still had bruises across his rib cage from the last time the carnales had cornered him. Pablo figured if they didn’t get out of Floresville soon, they’d both end up in cardboard coffins.

Out past the guard towers and the double line of razor wire fence, the hills hummed with cicadas. Lightning pulsed in the clouds.

Every morning, Pablo tried to imagine Floresville State Pen was a motel. He came out of Pod C and told himself he could check out anytime, get on the road, drive home to El Paso where his wife would be waiting. She’d hug him tight, tell him she still loved him—she’d read his letters and forgiven the one horrible mistake that had put him in jail.

After twelve long months inside, the dream was getting hard to hold on to.

That would change today.

He and Luis stood at the fence, chatting with their favorite guard, a Latina named Gonzales, who had breasts like mortar shells, gold-rimmed glasses, and a wispy mustache that reminded Pablo of his grandmother.

“You want to see fireworks tonight, miss?” Luis grinned.

Gonzales tapped the fence with her flashlight, reminding him to keep his feet behind the line. “Why—you got plans?”

“Picnic,” Luis told her. “Few beers. Patriotic stuff, miss. Come on.”

Pablo should have told him to shut up, but it was harmless talk. You looked at Luis—that pudgy face, boyish smile—and you knew he had to be joking.

Back home in El Paso, Luis had always been the favorite at family barbecues. He held the piñata for the kids, flirted with the women, got his cheeks pinched by the abuelitas. He was Tío Luis. The fun one. The nice one. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.

That’s why Luis had to shoot someone whenever he robbed an appliance store. Otherwise, the clerks didn’t take him seriously.

“No picnic for me,” Officer Gonzales said. “Got a promotion. Won’t see you vatos anymore.”

“Aw, miss,” Luis said. “Where you going?”

“Never mind. My last day, today.”

“You gonna miss the fireworks,” Luis coaxed. “And the beer—”

A hand came down on the scruff of Luis’ neck.

Will Stirman was standing there with his cell mate, Zeke.

Stirman wasn’t a big man, but he had a kind of wiry strength that made other cons nervous. One reason he’d gotten his nickname “the Ghost” was because of the way he fought—fast, slippery and vicious. He’d disappear, hit you from an angle you weren’t expecting, disappear again before your fists got anywhere close. Pablo knew this firsthand.

Another reason for Stirman’s nickname was his skin. No matter how much time Stirman spent in the sun, he stayed pale as a corpse. His shaved hair made a faint black triangle on his scalp, an arrow pointing forward.

“Compadres,” Stirman said. “You ’bout ready for chapel?”

Luis’ shoulders stiffened under the gringo’s touch. “Yeah, Brother Stirman.”

Stirman met Pablo’s eyes. Pablo felt the air crackle.

They were the two alpha wolves in the gospel ministry. They could never meet without one of them backing down, and Pablo was getting tired of being the loser. He hated that he and Luis had put their trust in this man—this gringo of all gringos.

He felt the weight of the shank—a sharpened cafeteria spoon—taped to his thigh, and he thought how he might change today’s plans. His plans, until Stirman had joined the ministry and taken over.

He calmed himself with thoughts of seeing his wife again. He looked away, let Stirman think he was still the one in charge.

Stirman tipped an imaginary hat to the guard. “Ma’am.”

He walked off toward the basketball court, Zeke in tow.

“What’s he in for?” Gonzales asked. She tried to sound cool, but Pablo knew Stirman unnerved her.

Pablo’s face burned. He didn’t like that women were allowed to be guards, and they weren’t even told what the inmates were doing time for. Gonzales could be five feet away from a guy like Stirman and not know what he was, how thin a fence separated her from a monster.

“Good luck with your new assignment, miss,” Pablo said.

He hoped Gonzales was moving to some office job where she would never again see people like himself or Will Stirman.

He hooked Luis’ arm and headed toward the chapel, the rough edge of the shank chafing against his thigh.

“Like to get a piece of that,” Zeke said.

It took Will a few steps to realize Zeke was talking about the Latina guard back at the fence. “You supposed to be saved, son.”

Zeke gave him an easy grin. “Hell, I don’t mean nothing.”

Will gritted his teeth.

Boy doesn’t know any better, he reminded himself.

More and more, Zeke’s comments reminded him of the men who’d killed Soledad and put him in jail. If Will didn’t get out of Floresville soon, he was afraid what he’d do with his anger.

He was relieved to see Pastor Riggs’ SUV parked out front of the chapel. The black Ford Explorer had tinted windows and yellow stenciling on the side: Texas Prison Ministry——Redemption Through Christ.

The guards only let Riggs park inside the gates when he was hauling stuff—like prison garden produce to the local orphanage, or delivering books to the prison library. The fact the SUV was here today meant Riggs had brought the extra sheet glass Will had asked for.

Maybe things would work out after all.

Inside the old Quonset hut, Elroy and C.C. were hunched over the worktable, arguing about glass color as they cut out pieces of Jesus Christ.

Will let his shadow fall over their handiwork. “Gonna be ready on time?”

Elroy scowled up at him, his glass cutter pressed against an opaque lemony sheet. “You make me mess up this halo.”

“Should be white,” C.C. complained. “Halo ain’t no fucking yellow.”

“It’s yellow,” Elroy insisted.

“Make Jesus look like he’s got a piss ring around him,” C.C. said. “Fucking toilet seat.”

They both looked at Will, because the picture was Will’s design, based on one of his sketches.

Table of Contents

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Southtown (Tres Navarre Series #5) 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
nose_in_a_bookSC More than 1 year ago
South Town is the first Nook book available in the Tres Navarre series. The book is well written with interesting characters. Some of the subject matter (i.e. human trafficing) is a little depressing, but Riordan has a witty style of writing similar to Robert Crais. The setting is San Antonio and the descriptions of the city are interesting. I enjoyed the characters and writing and am looking forward to reading more in this series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Will ¿Ghost¿ Stirman is the poster boy for a sociopath as he murders seemingly aimlessly though revenge enters his amoral thought process. However, anyone who knows Will¿s past will feel an iota of sympathy towards him as mankind sent Will down his homicidal path when thugs killed his wife and their infant. Still he does not need much of a thread to connect an innocent to someone who hurt him or his family......................................... Those involved in the murders of Will¿s family and anyone associated with his incarceration have reason to be afraid for Will bloodily breaks out of Floresville State Prison where he was serving a ninety-nine year sentence. Private investigator Tres Navarre¿s boss Erainya Manos is guilty of association, having been the spouse of the guy who not only got Will put away, but he also was directly involved in the incident that turned Stirman into a killer. Though she had no previous involvement, Erainya realizes an eye for an eye or perhaps a spouse for a spouse is a possibility since her husband is dead and the devil is heading her way. Tres plans to help his mentor survive the deadly Will......................................... Fans of the private detective sub-genre will want to read this terrific tale that stars a wonderful hero, an intriguing killer, and a powerful support cast. The story line never slows down as the audience follows the steps towards a final confrontation. Will is a tremendous antagonist whose mind went over the edge when his family were killed and cannot delineate right from wrong when it comes to connecting the dots. This fabulous tale will have readers spending the evening with reliable writer Rick Riordan.............................. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although i realize the percy jackson series is aimed for a younger teen audience like me (im thirteen), I simply adore and love riordans trademark writing style. So i couldnt resist reading into some of his other series. Although i am just a kid i perfectly understand the premise of the tres navarre books. Rioran has done it again! He crafts a sequel stronger than its compelling debuet. His characters are charmingly lovable and his story is interesting and original. A masterpeice. He has inspired me to write, to be a successful author is my life goal. Love you Riordan!!! :)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good luck with ur life goal of becoming an author that is also one of my life goals
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me wanting more! Can't wait for the next book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love Rick Riodan! This series is so good that I can't wait to get to the next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haven't read it but I really like Riordan's style. I'm sad that the first four aren't available on the nook because if they were I would definately read them. And ps if you want to write a long fancy review *cough anonymous cough* at least spell words correctly and use proper grammar. Thanks:P
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where are the first four books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What the
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What are the first four books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wheres the first book on nook?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is, quite simply, not a very good book. 'Big Red Tequila' introduced us to an intelligent, smart-mouthed, sensitive p.i. with attitude. It included a host of fascinating characters. 'Widower's Two-Step' and 'The Last King of Texas' continued these characterizations. However, with 'The Devil Went down to Austin' although Tres Navarre, Ralphas, and Maia Lee maintained their personas, the character of Garrett began to break down and show an unexpected yuppy side. This book also introduced us to what would seem to become a repetitive fascination with personality transference, which was unfortunately carried over into the next book. 'Southtown' methodically destroys all the characters we came to love in the first three books. Perhaps this is an attempt to render the characters as the mature, responsible adults they might become with time. The question is, WHY do they have to become mature and responsible-and incidentally, boring? We want to be entertained by characters we liked; this is fiction, not reality. In words any Texan can understand, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.