Gun control, that all-American hot-trigger topic, takes center stage in Gun Shy, the latest mystery from Ben Rehder, a proud Texan.

Why did you focus on gun control?

With John Marlin, my lead character, being a game warden, I wanted a subject he could sink his teeth into. It's an important issue with a lot of animosity on both sides.

Any surprises in doing the research?

The most surprising thing that I uncovered was this—if you read the Web sites for the most extreme groups on both sides of the issue, you wouldn't believe the amount of trickery and manipulation that takes place. You wouldn't believe they're looking at the same set of facts.

Where do you stand?

I believe in the Second Amendment, but I also believe in sensible laws. The way our country works is everyone has a say. Sometimes laws have to evolve to do what's best for society rather than one small interest group. Gun ownership is a right, not a privilege.

How do Marlin and his girlfriend, Nicole, deal with their opposing views?

Ultimately, they reach a compromise of sorts, and a lot of people think that's a dirty word. You both can't have what you want, and you have to live together, so somehow you've got to meet in the middle.

What was the biggest challenge in writing Gun Shy?

I wanted to go into satire. I call my earlier books [Guilt Trip, Flat Crazy, Bone Dry and Buck Fever] comic mysteries. They contain some satire, but I wanted to write a sweeping satire.

Why did you make Marlin a game warden?

Being a lifelong hunter and a Texan, I knew I wanted a law enforcement officer of some sort. There are plenty of cops out there, plenty of PIs, homicide investigators, and I just thought why not a game warden? Game wardens get involved with a lot of other things besides hunting and fishing. He's a fully commissioned Texas Peace Officer. [Rehder lifts his pant leg to show a tattoo of Texas on his left ankle.]

Why did you get that—were you drunk?

I wasn't drunk. I'm really proud to be a Texan. Texans outside Texas have this reputation of arrogance. You know that old phrase, "You can always tell a Texan, but you can't tell him much." You've heard that, right? I try to come across that way. I think we live in the best state of the nation, and I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.