Once more a book has been recommended to me through the grapevine, and this time I've had the pleasure of encountering D.B. Borton's new book, Bayou City Burning. Borton's exciting novel follows a mystery set in 1961 Houston, Texas. P.I. Harry Lark works to step down from a case that quickly turns deadly. His budding P.I. of a daughter, Dizzy Lark, investigates a mystery of her very own revolving around a young girl who mysteriously receives a doll from her father, following his alleged death in a tragic train accident.
This is my first encounter with Borton's work, and through the grapevine, as mentioned earlier, I was asked to review this book. One of the main aspects I take into account when reading anything new is first impressions. In the case of Borton's story, my expectation was higher since, as a native Houstonian reading local fiction, I immediately wanted the satisfaction of recognizing that Houston spirit any citizen would know. I was far from disappointed when I came across the line of dialogue spoken by Harry:
"Houstonians view roaches as just another breed of livestock. And when the bayous overflow and the crayfish wander onto the patio, we just look on it as fresh seafood delivery. Hurricanes keep us on our toes and make us appreciate the garden-variety thunderstorm."
This aspect of Borton's story is more of a personal positive in my book, but there's nothing more rewarding to me than a local Houston author who understands the soul of this city. Now take into account that lasting Houston spirit is shining in the backdrop of 1961. On the same note, Borton's curt writing gives the story's narrative character and the characters themselves refreshing grit.
If there is any criticism I can offer to Borton's book, it will double as another compliment as I found myself going back and forth on the amount of setting offered in Borton's historical fiction piece. I am not a connoisseur of detective stories or crime drama, so when I say I found the use of setting lacking, it is stated with this intention taken into account. There are great lines to do plenty to give us a glimpse into the year of 1961 like the following line:
"The next day, May 25th, President Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress. Among other things, he said that we were in an all-out race with the Russians to control outer space, and that he was committed to putting a man on the moon by 1970."
Usually, historical fiction spends more of the narrative on setting for the sake of immersion. It is fair to argue that crime fiction as its own genre concerns itself less with this staple, but it did cost me the ability to feel fully immersed in 1961 Houston. The compliment in this criticism is that I would recommend this as an entry-level historical and crime fiction book to any range of adults who are new to either of these genres.