My favorite books are those that are so deeply entrenched in their own sense of place that the town or region is as essential to the story as the leading characters. I read Muffin Man on a succession of spritely spring days, yet every time I opened the book, I could feel the blast of heat, my clothing stuck to me and I had to check to make sure sweat was not dripping off my chin. I could see and feel and smell high summertime in the Texas Hill Country, and, hot as it was, I wanted to be there.
If you have ever spent any time at all in Texas, you know these people. Brad Whittington has populated a real, if fictional, town with real (are they fictional?) people who interact with each other in yes, OK, very real ways. I know them, or people just like them, and I cared intensely what happened to them. I had a difficult time putting the book down despite the heat, because this book is completely engrossing. The mystery is intelligent, despite the talking muffin, and, slowly at first, then faster and faster the plot progression pulled me through to the satisfying conclusion.
If you love the English language, beautifully wrought quirky characters, similes and metaphors so artful they make you smile, and if you can resist (or else lovingly submit to) the temptations of passionately described epicurean gifts so pervasive in this part of Texas, you'll find much to love in Muffin Man. Warning: Prepare to crave ribs all week.
I know my husband is going to love this book. Its full of guy stuff - camping, poker, rugged vistas, muscle cars, challenging police work - but, ultimately, its a novel about logic and resisting it, the fine line between insanity and genius, lifegiving dreams and the freedom in reality, and, at the very root of everything, love. Always. Never doubt it.