2021 (Poisoned Pen Press)
It’s January, 1969, in the small rural community of Center Springs, Texas. Constable Ned Parker is looking into the seemingly accidental death of his nephew R.B., who was found in his overturned pickup near Sanders Creek bridge. At first it appears that R.B. drowned in the shallow water, but something doesn’t add up for Ned, who begins turning over stones in search of what really happened the night R.B. died.
Eventually, the investigation leads Ned back to the Starlite Club, a dangerous honky-tonk recently constructed in a no-man’s land on the Lone Star side of the Red River. Although his investigation uncovers suspicious characters, drugs, and gambling, it’s the series of murders that eliminated any potential witnesses to what happened to R.B. on that cold January night, that’s the most troubling.
As he works his way through the cover-up, which leads all the way to the coroner’s office, Ned finds himself involved in a high-stakes game of consequences with no good end in sight. Are the good citizens of Center Springs conspiring against Constable Parker in his search for the truth?
“Captivating. Wortham adroitly balances richly nuanced human drama with two-fisted action, and displays a knack for the striking phrase (‘R.B. was the best drunk driver in the county, and I don’t believe he run off in here on his own’). This entry is sure to win the author new fans.”
“Well-drawn characters and clever blending of light and dark kept this reader thinking of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.”
—Mystery Scene Magazine
“Another great story in the continuing ‘Texas Red River Mysteries’ series… While the setting, time period, and local culture are a warm and nostalgic trip down memory lane, the mysteries are well crafted and kept me guessing.”
“Switching from first to third person can be risky for any novelist, but Wortham keeps the plot twisting. Highly entertaining.”
—True West Magazine
“Wortham’s characters are complex and genuine, whether it’s 14-year-old Top Parker, who narrates much of the story, or old lawmen like Ned and polite, unflappable retired Ranger Mr. Tom Bell. They act real, they talk real—it’s easy for readers to slip right into the story and want to stay awhile.”
“Suspenseful, pacey, and unpredictable! Laying Bones is an engrossing, gritty novel that takes us to Center Springs, Texas in 1969, where Constable Ned Parker suddenly finds himself mixed up in a complex investigation involving drug smuggling, illegal gambling, corruption, and multiple murder when the suspicious death of his cousin leads back to the honky-tonk club recently built on the banks of the Red River.”
“The prose is authentic and rich. The characters are sensible, intelligent, and tenacious. And the plot unfolds and unravels quickly into a compelling tale full of family, community, intrigue, drama, greed, deception, power, manipulation, mayhem, violence, and murder. Overall, Laying Bones is an ominous, pacey, immersive thriller by Wortham.”
—What’s Better Than Books
“He has a way with the written word like no one else except James Lee Burke. His stories are funny, dark and thrilling.”