Holy Moly

Word is that Ben Rehder might drop the curtain on his snarky Blanco County mystery series with Holy Moly , the sixth novel featuring square-jawed Johnson City game warden John Marlin. If so, the Austinite goes out on a high note with this screwball tale about “pastorpreneur” Peter Boothe, whose plans to build a 1,600-acre church compound on the banks of the Pedernales are interrupted when Hollis Farley, a backhoe operator, unearths a $2 million Alamosaurus fossil on the construction site. (True fact: The Alamosaurus takes its name from the Ojo Alamo Sandstone, in New Mexico, where its fossils were first uncovered. Sorry, San Antonio.) Pastor Pete is chafed enough that his creationist teaching has come face-to-face with evolution; he’s even more incensed when his wife, Vanessa, comes cheek-to-cheek with Farley. A murder and the dino skull’s disappearance follow, and Marlin is left to solve the head-scratcher of a case. Rehder has a sharp edge, skewering the sleazy preacher and a relatively benign (if fetishistic) paleontologist with equal relish. But he’s about the caper, not the social commentary, and for those suffering Carl Hiaasen withdrawals (the master of comic crime last put out a novel in 2006), Holy Moly might be the perfect poolside fix come summer. St. Martin’s Minotaur, $24.95

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