Friday, January 13, 2012

The Jaguar

If you are a fan of T. Jefferson Parker's mystery novels–and if you aren't, you should be–then you probably already know the latest Charlie Hood novel is out. The Jaguar is the fifth in the series, the others being, in order, L.A. Outlaws; The Renegades; Iron River; and The Border Lords.

Parker has other books, including a bunch of stand-alones, and they are all worth reading. 

The Hood books are all off-the-wall, and they tend to get more so as they go along. There is an element of flat-out fantasy that shows up along the way, and while it is kept ambiguous in an earlier book, I'm really interested to see how Parker eventually pays it off.

The set-up is that Hood, a Los Angeles Sheriff's deputy, gets loaned to the ATF, and winds up in various adventures with gun-runners and drug cartels. There are colorful supporting characters, including the son of a woman with whom Hood was in love with,  who is related to an  infamous Mexican Robin Hood, Joaquin Murietta, whose head she keeps in a jar, and ... well, much else I'd tell you would be a spoiler, so I'm going to leave it at that.

Well, okay, a little more: In the latest, the McGuffin is a pregnant woman who is kidnapped, and a ticking clock thus started–in ten days she will be skinned alive. The guy who does it likes her, respects and admires her, but is going to allow it to happen anyway, unless certain conditions are met. 

The book wanders through the Mexican countryside, into the jungle, this way and that; there's a hurricane, a flood, crocodiles, narcocorrido music, lepers, big money, a lot of shooting and people getting killed, and psychopaths every which way, one of whom is waaay more than he appears ...

What I recommend is that you buy them all and then read them in order. The experience will be much fuller. A fine and bumpy ride. 

Caveat: Early on, Jefferson made some gun mistakes, for which he was called to task. He has better vetting now, but he's not a gun guy. Not enough to put me off him, but worth a couple of head-shakes. Just so you know. 

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