Rest of the Best: 10 Best Novels Set in Houston

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Houston continues to get wider and wider recognition in the world, but I still feel like it sometimes lacks an identity in the national consciousness. I mean, if someone tells you that a book takes place in New York City or Chicago, you can probably name a dozen books or movies or television shows that take place in those cities. By proxy, you have stories in your head that fit into those settings.

That's something Houston lacks, but we're getting better about it. Today we're going to look at ten of the best books that are set in H-Town

10. The Deal, by Becky Cochrane and Timothy Lambert
It's a gay romance novel, which might turn some people off, but the dialogue in The Deal is just unbeatable. Set in Montrose, it's about a group of friends fed up with their love lives who vow to find true love before next New Year's Eve. Yes, that is a corny as hell premise, and yes, it's a pretty predictable story, but the characters come to life in hilarious barbs and quips that will leave you howling. It's a great voice.

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9. Terms of Endearment, by Larry McMurtry
You're probably more familiar with the Academy Award-winning film that was based on the book, but McMurtry's original novel has all the same despair and pain and then some. Both the book and the film are set in Houston, and follow an overbearing widowed mother and her rebellious daughter as they face a host of life's challenges. It's a rough read that will kick you hard, but it's definitely worth it.

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8. Mercy, by David Lindsey
You may think it's just your typical murder mystery, but Lindsey lays down a truly gripping story as Detective Carmen Palma pursues a new and extremely dangerous type of serial killer through the streets of Houston. Somehow, everyone that falls victim to the monster submits willingly at first, even attaching their own handcuffs. It looks into the mindset of alternative sexual practices and other sensual undersides to society, and it is impossible to put down.

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7. Cosmology of Bing, by Mitch Cullin
Set in the hallowed halls of Houston academia, Dr. Bing Owen is an astronomy professor whose life is in shambles. His wife Susan is a poet who can't work any more because of a cerebral aneurysm, and his fixation on a long-ago male lover sends him into a sexually frustrated mentor relationship with a young student. It's a novel of meaning in a harsh world, and an exploration of what it means to rot in the world. Cullin is also a master of weaving in sections on astronomy and the poetry of Susan into the story as devices that move the pace along perfectly.

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6. The Ayes of Texas, by Daniel da Cruz
Easily the most TEXAS! Entry on this list, da Cruz's novel was written with all the '80s Cold War brag that could possibly be crammed into a prose work. It's mostly about a wealthy entrepreneur who decides to give some veterans a job restoring the Battleship Texas to seaworthiness, but they do so just in time for the old girl to fight a new kind of science fiction war. It's racist, rude, over-the-top, and a triumph of pulp fiction. You could literally read this book as a form of testosterone replacement therapy.

This story continues on the next page.



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7 comments
gailmindy
gailmindy

Blood and Money didn't make this list - it's one of the most well known Houston novels.

ChuckEye
ChuckEye

Though not strictly Houston, my favorite regional novel is Lewis Shiner's "Slam", set primarily in Surfside and Galveston.

ndekreek
ndekreek

I LOVE the witty banter in The Deal. I read Mercy years ago...and have to say I kept the lights on a few nights afterwards.  His other book, The Rules of Silence, would make such a great film!  Someone get Matthew McConaughey  to buy it and film it in Austin!

Staci Marks
Staci Marks

Only if there is a pool near by...perfer saltwater if you pleasr

Sandy Tramel
Sandy Tramel

I read Mercy many years ago and enjoyed it at the time. Maybe "enjoy" is not the best choice of words. My doctor was reading it at the same time and he enjoyed the medical parts!

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