Friday, January 08, 2010

Border Blues

In L.A. Outlaws (2008), T. Jefferson Parker introduced Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Charlie Hood, sent up to California’s Antelope Valley after some bad behavior. In The Renegades (2009), Hood was wrapped up in a major case of police corruption. Now, in the absolutely riveting new Iron River (Dutton), Hood is working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives along the U.S.-Mexican border, trying to slow the flow of illegal weapons north.

Few writers of any kind can match Parker’s rare combination of dead-on characterization, narrative excitement, and the kind of cool, poetic prose that grabs your attention and won’t let go.

In L.A. Outlaws, you may recall, Hood tangled with (in all aspects of that phrase) a female bank robber who called herself Allison Murrieta, after a legendary 19th-century bandit who was an ancestor. She also taught school as “Suzanne Jones.”

Early in Iron River, Hood is searching through some sales records of a recently de-licensed Arizona gun dealer when he comes across a listing for “a .40-caliber derringer for Allison Murrieta of Norwalk, California.” Parker writes:
Hood looked away and took a deep breath and let it out and looked back at the record. Allison Murrieta/Suzanne Jones. Take your pick. He recognized her bold handwriting. It conjured her voice and the shape of her face and the feel of her body and the taste of her breath. She had been shot with that derringer in her hand, not quite ready to use it against a boy. It was ivory-handled and beautifully tooled. Now it was Hood’s gun, bequeathed wordlessly to Hood by Allison’s son.

Hood held the form and looked at her signature and in spite of everything he felt at this moment, he smiled.
A similar note is sounded near this new novel’s end, as Hood watches through field glasses what appears to be very large gun deal going down, engineered by Allison’s son. Remarks Parker: “In this young descendant of Joaquin Murrieta, Hood saw outlaws dead and outlaws not yet born, and he also saw Suzanne, and even glimpsed something dark and tempting that he had long ago banished from himself ...”

As I’ve said before, Parker is arguably the best Southern California crime writer now working, and his Charlie Hood is an altogether fascinating creation.

READ MORE:T. Jefferson Parker, Between the Lines,” by Peter Larsen (The Orange County Register).

3 comments:

Shon said...

Can this novel stand alone? Thanks. I have the first two books in the series but sometimes, you just want to dive into the most recent.

Keishon

MysterLynch said...

Over the years, TJP has become not simply a must-read for me, but a must-read now guy.

Every book is a winner.

dick adler said...

MY INSTINCT IS TO SUGGEST READING 'LA OUTLAWS' FIRST. SO MUCH OF HOOD'S INTENSE RELATIONSHIP WITH ALLISON IS RECALLED IN THAT FIRST BOOK THAT I'M AFRAID YOU MIGHT MISS SOMETHING..