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Publisher's Summary

Winner of six Lambda Literary awards, the Henry Rios mystery series is iconic and Michael Nava has been hailed by the New York Times as "one of our best" crime writers. Upon its original publication, the Los Angeles Times said of Howtown and its author: "Nava's mysteries are faithful to the conventions of the genre, but they are set apart by their insight, compassion, and sense of social justice.... Howtown is Nava's bravest and most ambitious novel to date."

This 2019 edition from Persigo Press has been revised and an author's note added.

Howtown finds Rios back in his hometown of Los Robles, California, defending Paul Windsor, a boyhood acquaintance accusing of murdering a pedophile. Windsor is himself a pedophile, and the police believe the murder was the result of an extortion scheme gone wrong. It's up to Rios to prove otherwise, if he can. To do that, he has to confront the ghosts of his past that still linger in the sleepy river town. Simultaneously, the novel explores Rios' relationship with his HIV-positive lover, Josh Mandel.

This is a revised edition with an author's endnote

©1990 Michael Nava (P)2020 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Howtown

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Troy
  • 27-06-20

Truly Excellent

Another Wow in the Henry Rios stories. Henry is at the top of his game here and presented with a moral quandary of a case. Should he represent a pedophile accused of murder? Of course he does. Lots of great twists and turns with a fabulous supporting cast.

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  • Annika
  • 16-05-20

Gritty and real

I think I’ve said it before but Michael Nava has a way with words that really draws you in and makes you feel. Howtown is not an exception. With this book he created a tale that made you go through a wide range of feelings, some more unexpected than others.

Howtown brings Henry back to the small town where he grew up. It’s not a happy reunion as there are many painful memories and people he left behind. But as a favour to his sister he takes on a case he’d normally not take on. But while his old childhood friend was far from innocent Henry did believe that he did not commit the murder he was accused of, but what was more, the case against him was flimsy and circumstantial at best. To take on the case he also had to take on the town and tackle the many dirty secrets hidden underneath the surfaces.

They say that you should write what you know and it’s clear that Nava is well versed in the world of lawyers and criminal law. For the most part this book details the case against Paul and Henry’s investigation into it, to find out what really happened. It was a well-crafted story and I have to admit that Nava managed something I never thought possible – to make me feel for the pedophile. At least in terms of the unfairness of how he was treated by the justice system and how no one seemed to care he was set up for a crime he didn’t commit. Yes he’d done some horrible things, I’m never excusing that, and I fully believe he deserved to be behind bars. I also believe it should be for a crime he actually did commit. The world isn’t perfect and that’s something Nava really shows with his books. The world isn’t perfect and neither is anyone of the characters and I think that’s what makes them so engaging and makes you connect with them.

There are some romantic undertones to this book, not many but some. We see Henry in a committed relationship with fifteen year younger Josh. A HIV positive Josh. Nava has been reworking and republishing this series for the past year or so and even added a new book to it (Carved in Bone). All but one has been produced into audio, and at the time of this review I’m not sure if Goldenboy will be or not. I kind of wish it will as it’s where Henry and Josh met and fell in love. It’s the start of their story. Now this series is not a romance, but there are romantic elements and from what I can tell Josh is and will be a huge impact in Henry’s life and because of that I wished to have been there from the start. That being said, the Henry/Josh story line is minor in this book and not having read Goldenboy won’t impact the listener to follow or loving this story to the fullest.

Thom Rivera is fast becoming a favourite narrator of mine. I’ve loved all of his performances of this series. He fits this series, he fits Henry and he makes you feel like you know him. When he narrates I forget the world around me, I’ve travelled back to the 80’s and tries to unravel the mystery with him. I love his voice, that alone make me want to listen to him all day long with a huge smile on my face.

The Henry Rios Mysteries are gripping and addictive and I’m looking forward to experiencing them all, though I have a feeling deep down that it’s won’t be a happy journey, but I need it all the same. It will be worth it.

A copy of this book was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review for Love Bytes.

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  • Texan2
  • 05-05-20

Brilliant Again

Again Mr. Rivera has given Mr. Nava's words wings. It is a marvelous listening experience.

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  • Eugenia
  • 30-04-20

Gripping!! What a narrator!!

WOW! I couldn’t stop listening to this marvelous novel! The superb prose kept me enthralled and the mystery set my mind to work.

If you are looking for romance, look somewhere else. While we do get some, and see a man dealing with a relationship with a partner who is HIV positive, this book is a mystery. This book is about Henry Rios, it’s about a case. His relationship takes a back seat.

So, you say you’re on board with plot over romance, well there is another huge hurdle for you—something that may be a trigger for many. Rios is defending a pedophile on a murder charge. Distasteful as defending a pedophile is to most, the thing is that Henry believes that everyone deserves a fair trial. On top of dealing with the morality of fighting for a pedophile, we hear explicit descriptions of photos and past abuse. This is definitely a trigger for many.

The layers in this book kept building. I never really knew what was coming next and this shows the skill Nava has as a writer. I could not stay away from this mystery! This felt like it could be a movie. Seriously!!

This is only the second Henry Rios book I have read, and I have 5 starred them both.

My rec? I loved it, you will, too. (Beware sexual abuse triggers).