Friday, August 23, 2013

REVIEW: The Texas Twist by John Vorhaus


After pulling world-class cons in California and New Mexico, Radar Hoverlander and his crew, including girlfriend and grift artist Allie Quinn and their hapless buddy Vic Mirplo, are back in action, this time in Austin. So many rich fools to bamboozle—but is Radar having a crisis of conscience? A smart, fast-paced, funny work—crime caper fiction at its best.

John Vorhaus introduced the charming con man Radar Hoverlander in the novel California Roll, followed by Albuquerque Turkey; The Texas Twist is the third Radar novel.

Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Prospect Park Books (first published May 17th 2013)
ISBN  1938849078 (ISBN13: 9781938849077)

About the Author

John Vorhaus is known to one and all as the man who brought Radar Hoverlander – con artist extraordinaire – to life in the “sunshine noir” mystery novel, The California Roll, and its acclaimed sequel, The Albuquerque Turkey.

John is also well known as the author of The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if You're Not, and its acclaimed sequel, The Little Book of SITCOM, which continue to be definitive sources of information and inspiration for writers from Santa Monica to Scandinavia.

An international consultant in television and film script development, Vorhaus has worked for television networks, film schools, production companies and film funding bodies in 28 countries on four continents. He recently worked in Bulgaria, recruiting and training writers for that country’s adaptation of Married… with Children, and in Tel Aviv, consulting on the Israeli version of The Golden Girls. He also travels regularly to Nicaragua, where he co-created the social action drama Contracorriente to provide positive role modeling for the poor, young and disenfranchised of that embattled country.

And oh by the way, he has written more than three million words on poker, just in his spare time.

Vorhaus is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and a member of the Writers Guild of America. He has taught at such institutions as Northwestern University, the American Film Institute and the Writers Program of the UCLA Extension. He is the author of a dozen books, including Creativity Rules! A Writer's Workbook, the novel Under the Gun, the Killer Poker series and, with Annie Duke, the bestselling Decide to Play Great Poker.

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My Thoughts
A cold wind fell across the face of the west; a scratchy wet towel of a wind that poured down the front range of the Rockies, gathered speed across the prairie, and blasted into Manhattan, Kansas, slamming it sidewise across the north-south artery of Seth Child Road. 
I was first introduced to the characters Radar Hoverlander, Allie and Vic in the novel The California Roll, which was the first in the series. I missed the second novel The Albuquerque Turkey, but when the author offered me the opportunity to read his latest The Texas Twist, I jumped at the chance, having enjoyed our first encounter so thoroughly!

I became a fan of Vorhaus with The California Roll. I found then that he is really fun to read. He’s become something of a “guilty pleasure” of mine. (I don’t know whether that would be taken as a compliment, but it is intended as one!)

The Texas Twist takes place in Austin, Texas, and we find Radar, Allie and Vic still together. Allie is now pregnant, and Radar is thinking of making a few changes in his life. But he finds himself immersed once again in a caper, all while attempting to extricate himself from the grifter life.

Austin is one of my favorite cities. At one point, Radar and Allie are watching millions of Mexican Freetail bats fly out from under the Congress Bridge at dusk, and it reminded me of when I was in Austin with my friend, and we sat under that darn bridge for hours, waiting for this moment, only to see a single bat. I learned later that it was the wrong season for them. I wish I'd read that little detail online before sitting in the cold for hours, waiting in anticipation of this mass flight!

I love Radar. He's what I referred to in my review of The California Roll as an "honorable con artist". Born into the grifter life, he knows nothing else, but you get the feeling that he's uncomfortable with his life and his actions. Now, in the third book surrounding his life, he is beginning to truly question who he is and what he's doing, and seeking a way out. He seems to want to become a a truly honest man. He's even adopted a dog, which does not typically fit well with the grifter lifestyle!
Last year, using nothing more than sleight-of-mind and the power of persuasion, Radar had rescued Boy from the hands of a tweaking violent meth head. This may have been an outbreak of the goodness virus Vic named, for grifters, peripatetic by nature, generally avoid the canine encumbrance, but in this case Radar embraced it. (p. 29)
His girlfriend Allie is saucy and smart as ever, though perhaps getting a little rounder, and partner Vic is outrageous as ever. You're never quite sure what to make of Vic. One second he appears to be a bumbling idiot, and the next he's a freakin' genius. You get the feeling that it is all a farce, and you don't actually know the real Vic.

Vorhaus can be deceiving. Sometimes with the silly, light-heartedness and relaxed manner with which he writes, you forget what a talented storyteller lies behind it all. You're just enjoying the ride. Then you’ll read a passage that will remind you once again that the author really knows his way around the English language!

My final word: Crafty, verbose and essentially honest and good-hearted underneath it all, Radar is a character for whom you can cheer. He's sort of the Dexter of con artists. He may be doing bad things, but as long as he does them to the bad guys, you love every minute of it! And author John Vorhaus makes it all just plain fun to read!

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble

Cover: B
Writing Style: A-
Characters:  A
Storyline/Plot: A-
Interest/Uniqueness: A

My Rating


I received a copy of this book to review from the author, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.

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