Start 2023 by resolving to read more Texas titles on BARD!
This assortment of Texas titles features notorious outlaws, a free thinking preacher, and Texas League baseball. A dash of mystery, train robbing, and Beatlemania guarantees a rousing start to your New Reading Year.
ABOVE US ONLY SKY by Michele Young-Stone
Prudence Eleanor Vilkas was born with heart-shaped wings on her back. Although they were removed, the adult Prudence searches for a greater connection to her past. When she reunited with her long-estranged Lithuanian grandfather, they set off on a journey to discover a lineage of miraculous bird-women who traversed continents and fought wars to unearth their extraordinary place in the world. Commercial audiobook. Some violence. 2015.
BURROWS: A RED RIVER MYSTERY by Reavis Z. Wortham
Lyndon B. Johnson is President, Beatlemania is in overdrive and gasoline costs 30 cents a gallon when Ned Parker retires as constable in Center Springs, Texas. But his plan to live a quiet life as a cotton farmer is torpedoed. A phone call leads Ned to a body in the Red River and into the urgent investigation headed by his nephew, the newly elected constable Cody Parker. Together they work to head off a multi-state killing spree that sets northeast Texas on fire. As the weeks pass, Ned’s grandchildren, ten-year-old Top and his tomboy cousin Pepper, struggle with personal issues resulting from their traumatic experiences at the Rock Hole only months before. They now find themselves in the middle of a nightmare for which no one can prepare. Cody and Deputy John Washington, the law south of the tracks, follow a lead from their small community to the long abandoned Cotton Exchange warehouse in Chisum. Stunned, they find the Exchange packed full of the town’s cast off garbage and riddled with booby-trapped passageways and dark burrows. Despite Ned’s warnings, Cody enters the building and finds himself relying on his recent military experiences to save both himself and Big John. Unfortunately, the trail doesn’t end there and the killing spree continues. Commercial audiobook. Strong language and some violence. 2012.
COLD ANGER: A STORY OF FAITH AND POWER POLITICS by Mary Beth Rogers
This is the story of Ernesto Cortes, a community organizer determined to change the structure of Texas. It is also about a new kind of intervention in politics by working poor people who incorporate their religious values into a struggle for power and visibility. Cortes and his groups have transformed the politics of San Antonio, ninth largest city in the country, and are part of a new American grass-roots politics for the 1990s.
DARK PLACES: A RED RIVER MYSTERY by Reavis Z. Wortham
At the tail end of 1967, the Parker family once again finds it impossible to hide from a world spinning out of control. Fourteen-year-old Top still can’t fit in with their Center Springs, Texas, community or forget recent, vicious crimes. His near-twin cousin Pepper, desperate to escape her own demons, rashly joins the Flower Children flocking to California—just as two businessmen are kidnapped and murdered in the Red River bottoms on the same night a deadly hit and run kills a farmer. Constable Ned Parker wonders if these crimes are connected, but he goes after Pepper, leaving the investigation in the hands of Sheriff Cody Parker. Parker hires Deputy Anna Sloan, an investigator with an eye toward detail as everyone is eyeing her. Yet it is instinct that propels her after killers through a world nearly forgotten. What of Pepper? Out on Route 66, the Mother Road to California, a man named Crow isn’t what he seems. Lies, deceptions, and a band of outlaw motorcyclists proves to the Parkers that no matter where you turn, no matter what you do, the world is full of such darkness that even grandmothers are capable of unspeakable deeds. Commercial audiobook. Strong language and some violence. 2015.
HANDS UP!: THE HISTORY OF A CRIME by Alfred Rasmus Sorenson
This was the first account written about notorious outlaw Sam Bass and his gang, published in 1878, just months after the infamous train robbery at Big Springs, Nebraska. The story begins with the robbery of $60,000 in freshly minted gold pieces, covers the pursuit of the six gang members, and ends with the shooting of half the gang. Violence and strong language.
HAWKE’S PREY by Reavis Z. Wortham
It’s a stunning attack, lightning quick and chilling in its execution. A merciless gang of terrorists seizes the Presidio County Courthouse in the midst of the worst blizzard West Texas has seen in a century. Loaded down with enough firepower to outfit an army, the attackers slaughter dozens, take all survivors hostage, and assume complete control. The nation—and the US government—are at their mercy. Or so they think. They don’t know that a seasoned Texas Ranger is also inside the courthouse. Sonny Hawke has hauled in some of America’s most wanted. Now he’s up against his most dangerous adversary yet. Sonny likes his chances. The enemy is his to take down—one by one. Until he’s face-to-face with the ruthless mastermind gunning for our very freedom. Commercial audiobook. Unrated. 2017.
JUSTICE AT REDWILLOW by John D. Nesbitt
Jim Fontaine wants to get a new start in life by settling on his own piece of land near the town of Redwillow. He isn’t there very long, though, when a saloon girl named Emma turns up dead and a friend of his, Charley Drake, gets thrown in jail for the murder. Nora Winterborne, who is new in town, confides to Fontaine that she is Emma’s sister, but has to keep quiet. After the disappearance of another woman and a trespasser on his homestead, Fontaine must follow a trail of twisted stories, old crimes, and new murders to help bring about justice in Redwillow. Some violence and some strong language.
PREDATOR’S WALTZ by Jay Brandon
Suspenseful story of Vietnamese gangs in Houston and the innocent people who get caught in their crossfire. Also the story of one man’s metamorphosis from laid-back product of the sixties to fearless and clever warrior; his confrontations with the gangsters will have readers cheering at the climax. Strong language and violence.
ROCK HOLE: A RED RIVER MYSTERY by Reavis Z. Wortham
It’s a whole other country out there. In 1964, when Ned Parker, farmer and part-time constable, is summoned to a cornfield one hot morning to examine the remains of a tortured bird dog, he discovers that there is a dark presence in their quiet community of Center Springs, Texas. Ned is usually confident handling moonshiners, drunks, and instances of domestic dispute. But when it comes to animal atrocities—which then turn to murder—the investigation spins beyond his abilities. Ned combines forces with John Washington, a well-known black deputy sheriff from nearby Paris, Texas, to track down a disturbed individual who has become a threat to their small community. As the case takes a dizzying series of twists and brings forth eccentric characters as well as several dead ends, Ned’s cranky friend, Judge O. C. Rains, is forced to contact the FBI. Then, sinister warnings that his family has been targeted by the killer lead Ned to the startling discovery that he knows the murderer very well. After the failed abduction of his precocious grandchildren, Top and Pepper, the old lawman becomes judge and jury to end what has become a murder spree in the Red River bottomlands. And it signals the end of an era in Center Springs. In bald-headed, pot-bellied Ned Parker, Wortham has created an authentic American hero reminiscent of the best heroes and antiheroes in a story that blends country humor with heart-pounding suspense and ends with a stunning climax that may well shock our civilized sensibilities. Commercial audiobook. Violence and strong language. 2011.
PARSON HENRY RENFRO: FREE THINKING ON THE TEXAS FRONTIER by William Clark Griggs
The period after Texas’ Revolution was turbulent as Texans contended with religious issues, family life on the frontier, and the Civil War. Migrating to Texas in 1851, Renfro enrolled in fledgling Baylor University and became a Baptist preacher. Later, inspired by the writings of such men as Thomas Paine and Spinoza, Renfro embraced the Free Thought Movement and was disenfranchised by the Church. This biography tells the reader much about the era’s social mores.
RIGHT SIDE OF WRONG: A RED RIVER MYSTERY by Reavis Z. Wortham
In 1965 Constable Cody Parker’s frightening dreams of gathering storm clouds for the tight-knit Parker family from Center Springs, Texas, proved accurate. Cody is ambushed and nearly killed on a lonely country road during an unusually heavy snowfall. With that attack, the locals fear that a disturbed murderer the Skinner has returned to their community. While his nephew recovers, Constable Ned Parker struggles to connect a seemingly unrelated series of murders. As the summer of 1966 approaches, rock and roll evolves to reflect the increasing unrest in the country, and the people of northeast Texas wonder why their once peaceful community has suddenly become a dangerous place to live. Ned’s preteen grandchildren, Top and Pepper, are underfoot at every turn. The two lawmen, along with the Deputy John Washington, cross paths with many colorful citizens, including cranky old Judge O. C. Rains, the jittery farmer Isaac Reader, and the Wilson boys, Ty Cobb and Jimmy Foxx. And then there’s the arrival in their small community of a mysterious old man named Tom Bell. Now recovered, Cody decides to follow his main suspect across the Rio Grande and into Mexico. Ned understands that to save his nephew, he will have to cross more than a river-he will have to cross over to the right side of wrong. Humor, suspense, horror, precognition, and life in the tumultuous 1960s all play a part in the solving of this mystery. Commercial audiobook. Violence and strong language. 2013.
TEXAS BAD BOY by Jean Brashear
Everyone thinks Lacey DeMille is the next thing to royalty, a society girl with beauty, brains and money–but bad boy Devlin Marlowe knows better. Twenty years after being exiled in disgrace for daring to want her, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks has sweet revenge in his grasp…for only he knows that her whole life is built on a lie. And revenge may be more costly than either of them can imagine. Commercial audiobook. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex. 2011.
TEXAS LEAGUE, 1888-1987: A CENTURY OF BASEBALL by Bill O’Neal
A must for any baseball fan who wants to know who played where and when. Thirty-eight cities in eight states have held franchises in the Texas League. The author visited these ballparks, studied newspaper accounts and statistics from every season, and interviewed players, fans, and journalists.
TRAIN ROBBING BUNCH by Rick Miller
A factual history of the life of outlaw Eugene Bunch based on primary research, including court and family records. Although Bunch is often mentioned as a shadowy outlaw figure, this is the first account of his life, allowing the reader a view of 19th century America for those who lived in violence. Violence.
UNRAVELED A RED RIVER MYSTERY by Reavis Z. Wortham
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 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 everything 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. Commercial audiobook. Strong language and some violence. 2016.
VENGEANCE IS MINE: A RED RIVER MYSTERY by Reavis Z. Wortham
In October of 1967, the Summer of Love is history, rock and roll is dark and revolutionary, and people in the small east Texas community of Center Springs simply want to live their lives as quietly as possible. But a handsome darkness in the form of Las Vegas gangster Anthony Agrioli has left the business to hide out in their tiny backwater settlement with his blond bombshell girlfriend. Two years earlier, Agrioli met newlyweds Cody and Norma Faye Parker in a Vegas casino and heard their enthusiastic descriptions of the perfect place to settle down and raise a family. At least it was perfect, before their peaceful world found itself in the crosshairs of a coming confrontation. Back in Center Springs, thirteen-year-old Top Parker has what his grandmother, Miss Becky, calls a poisoned gift: his dreams, though random and disconnected, always seem to come true. This time Top dreams he’s a wagon hub with spokes converging from all directions. To him, the spokes symbolize that something is coming. He doesn’t know their quiet community will soon be a combat zone when the gangsters arrive. But they’re after something else, not Agrioli…yet. A sheriff crooked as a dog’s hind leg, an unsolved murder in the river bottoms, counterfeit money, and a bank robbery all wrapped in a country Shakespearean comedy once again bring together Constables Ned and Cody Parker, Deputy John Washington, Judge O. C. Rains, and the rest of Wortham’s real and sometimes wacky cast of characters. Commercial audiobook. Violence and strong language. 2014.
WALLS RISE UP by George Sessions Perry
A hilarious novel combining dead-pan humor with shrewd observation as three Texas vagabonds Jimmy, Eddie and Mike, philosophical wayfarers, follow their destinies along the banks of the Brazos River.