on Feb. 3, 2018 :
"In that rare subgenre of Christian literature concerning cats that take human form and enter championship wrestling tournaments, OUT OF TEXAS 4 definitely rates in the top 10." – Merry Baker, The Kitchen Science Monitor
I heartily concur with that accessment.
I like the tight time frame these three stories take up. Everything occurs over an Easter weekend. It's all about priorities amd misplaced love. J-man (the gaunt-faced grasppler) and Josie (the Viking Mummy from Outer Space) battle evil of the worst kind as forces both other-worldly and in their own back yard attempt to destroy them.
First a filthy man who has prolonged his life for centuries tries to take over J-man's body. He undergoes a terrific psychic beating that affect him the rest of the book.
Then STW boss Gordon Paul tricks J-man into a false investigation hoping it will cause him to miss his championsship tournament fight. J-man and Josie end up in an underground Hell where they encounter a murderous Easter Bunny. They make it back in time for the fight but Gordon Paul again double-crosses them, leaving both hopelessly injured.
All of which leads to the final story where J-man is accused of murder with Gorson Paul as the chief witness against. Josie plays the role of lawyer defending J-man. The case is resolved with nobody the winner. Then comes the most painful part as J-man and Josie question their feelings and motives about each other. It ends badly, tragically even, and J-man once more finds himself alone in the world.
This is not to say the story is all tragic. In many ways it is the funniest book so far in the Out of Texas series. J-man's dialogues with Jon Raas in the library are very humorous. The deteriorating relationship between Raas and Paul is well depicted. A new character, the Ancient Librarian, is introduced as a type of guardian angel or adviser to J-man. You have the Hitchcock Dildo Factory and a wonderful barroom scene with hilarious dialogue and a knock-down drag-out fight. And the "Perry Mason" murder trial parades a bunch of wacky named characters. There are also several passages of great philosophical insight. An underground rabbit named Mein Herr, a weather-controlling device called the Tornado Watch. Edgar Allen, podiatrist. Richard N. Karen, carpenter. A wonderful blend of humor and tragedy. If you can read this without laughing, or even crying, then you are definitely impaired in too many ways to number.
(review of free book)
on Feb. 16, 2017 :
Out of Texas 4 is an immensely enjoyable reading experience. Within its three novella-length tales you’ll find side-splitting humor, intense action, poignant philosophy, and heart-breaking tragedy. The stories star J-man, a shape-shifting cat, and his friend Josie, the revitalized Viking Mummy from Outer Space. It also features many characters from previous books, now brought into the limelight. Most of the action takes place over a three-day Easter weekend. The stories are not complicated but are packed with events.
The first tale, “Strawberry Feels Forever,” takes place on Good Friday. It finds J-man and Josie at the mercy of a heartless man who has prolonged his life for over 200 years by swapping his mind into the body of others. Kind of a “Charles Dexter Ward” scenario. It leaves J-man badly damaged with severe headaches for the rest of the book.
Next up is “Vengeance Is Mein.” The chapter titles come from songs by the Doors. J-man has reached the semifinals of a fight tournament and promoter Gordon Paul is determined that J will not succeed. The next day, Easter Saturday, he sends him on a red herring mission hoping he will not get back in time for that night’s fight. The already damaged J-man gets involved in a terrific barfight. The next morning, Easter, our hero is sitting in a field of bluebonnets when an off-screen cloud of mosquitoes appear and coalesce into his friend Josie. A tornado drops down on them, but they survive. They find a hole by a stream and follow it to a cave system where the villainous Mein Herr awaits. He is a large, anthropomorphized rabbit. It turns out he is a returning minor character from the previous book. A nice touch has the rabbit wearing a Maltese cross armband, a homage I’m sure to Bugs Bunny writer Michael Maltese. Mein Herr plans to control the weather and influence the outcome of important events. He and J-man fight, a cave-in results and the cavern floods. Quick thinking on J’s part allows him and Jo to survive, after which he returns to Houston in time for his fight. Gordon Paul still has a trick up his sleeve and double-crosses J, leaving both him and Jo badly hurt. The ending, by the way, is outright hilarious.
Lastly, there’s “Embarrass the Wind,” a courtroom drama where J stands trial for the murder of one of Gordon Paul’s stooges. Josie, a law student, defends him, blowing the case at every turn. She believes he is guilty and does all she can to get the case thrown out or at least delayed. A funny exchange occurs when Josie talks of pulling some strings and J replies, "Texas justice duzn't pull strings; it yanks nooses." In the end J-man is exonerated, but the stress causes him and Jo to break up. It concludes with one of the most heartbreaking scenes ever.
The entire book appears to focus on the idea of change. J becomes less of a cat, the once-shy Jo becomes ever bolder in her actions, Gordon Paul’s attitude goes from open dislike to outright hate, Mein Herr transforms from an ordinary man into a microwave monster, and Justin Time, the villain from the first tale, constantly swaps bodies to stay alive. There is also the sheer amount of physical and mental punishment inflicted on our hero which he must endure while battling overwhelming odds.
Oh, and did I mention it’s also the funniest book in the series so far?
Check it out. It’s a long read, but worth the effort.
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)