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Texas Outlaw

Review

Texas Outlaw

Rory Yates is one of my favorite characters from the James Patterson House of Ideas. We first met him in 2018’s TEXAS RANGER, which Patterson wrote with Andrew Bourelle. The newly published TEXAS OUTLAW is a contemporary western that fulfills and exceeds every promise that its predecessor made. It has everything you want and need in a thriller.

Rory is an extremely believable figure, one who never seeks the spotlight and is content to simply do his job as a Texas Ranger. He did not come to this position by happenstance. It is one that he dreamed of from childhood and acquired in the old-fashioned manner of earning it. One of Rory’s notable abilities is what in a better and more honest age would be described as a quick draw, which he demonstrates early on in the book when he unwittingly walks into a hostage situation.

His skill set notwithstanding, Rory has problems in his professional and personal lives. He has a very prickly relationship with Kyle Hendricks, his new lieutenant at the Texas Ranger station in Waco. And his girlfriend happens to be Willow Dawes, an aspiring singer-songwriter who is on the fast track to becoming a country music superstar. Her career has necessitated a move to Nashville, and it looks like their relationship may be moving into geographically undesirable territory.

"TEXAS OUTLAW should be satisfying to fans of westerns, contemporary and otherwise, as well as those looking for a thriller that is new and different from what they usually read."

It is against this backdrop that Hendricks sends Rory on what appears to be a busywork assignment to Rio Lobo, a two-streetlight town in a remote part of west Texas. A police detective needs help investigating the death of a local Congresswoman who to all outward appearances died as the result of an allergic reaction to peanuts. Rory is made to feel unwelcome by almost everyone in the Rio Lobo police department from the top down, except for Ariana Delgado, the detective who requested assistance. That said, it seems at first that the simplest explanation --- that the councilwoman accidentally ate the wrong cookie --- is the correct one.

But Rory does the job that he has been sent to do, and while he interviews the deceased woman’s acquaintances, he finds that people are lying to him when they seemingly have no reason to do so. He also learns that there are some especially powerful citizens in Rio Lobo who not only resent his presence there but want him out of town…and the sooner the better. This simply makes Rory all the more determined to stay, even as he finds himself attracted to Ariana. However, the closer that he comes to discovering what is really going on, the more dangerous it becomes for him.

When Ariana emerges as the number one suspect in a local murder, Rory resolves to arrive at the truth, no matter what it might be, even as he finds himself working on the wrong side of the law that he has taken a vow as a Texas Ranger to uphold. Something will have to give, and ultimately does.

There is plenty of action here, particularly in the latter half of the book, and it is balanced with a wagonload of suspense and an interesting (though predictable) mystery. The characters, both major and minor, are also well-developed. Rory is a relatively uncomplicated protagonist who is nonetheless memorable and likable, especially as he attempts to navigate through the minefield of love versus temptation. The backdrop of rural Texas doesn’t hurt anything either, nor do the occasional references to the country and rock music world. With respect to the latter, I suspect that Bourelle might be a fan of the James Gang.

TEXAS OUTLAW should be satisfying to fans of westerns, contemporary and otherwise, as well as those looking for a thriller that is new and different from what they usually read.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on April 3, 2020

Texas Outlaw
by James Patterson and Andrew Bourelle

  • Publication Date: March 30, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, Western
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316428167
  • ISBN-13: 9780316428163