Saturday, May 11, 2013

Charlie Hood Returns in T. Jefferson Parker's "The Famous and the Dead"

We are big fans of T. Jefferson Parker's series of Charlie Hood novels here at Cool Stuff We Like. Charlie Hood is a Gulf War II vet and an LA Country Sheriff on loan to the ATF in Southern California, working to interdict the gun trade along the border with Mexico, an "Iron River" of weapons flowing south through the border states into the hands of cartel gunmen. As an honorable man in a dirty business, he tangles with an interesting cast of good guys and bad guys on both sides of the border and both sides of the law:

Suzanne Jones, a descendant of legendary 19th century California desperado Joaquin Murrietta, is an elementary school teacher by day. At night, she dons a rhinestone-studded Zorro mask and becomes Allison Murrietta, a sexy derringer-packing outlaw who specializes in robbing unsympathetic victims, and donating a big portion of her gains to various charities, and becomes a SoCal celebrity in the process.

Bradley Jones, Suzanne's son, is a reserve deputy sheriff who uses his law enforcement credentials as cover for his real job running drugs, guns, and bales of cash for a Mexican drug cartel. Like his mother, he idolizes his notorious ancestor; his life's ambition is to carry on the outlaw legend of the bandit known as El Famoso.

Then there's the mysterious Mike Finnegan, an enigmatic figure who knows things he shouldn't possibly know, who emerges now and then from the shadows to be a catalyst for all manner of chaos and mayhem, then disappears back into the shadows without leaving any fingerprints behind... He may or may not be a centuries-old devil, a tempter, in human guise. Years before he befriended Suzanne Jones, and now he's taken what seems to be an avuncular interest in Bradley Jones and his burgeoning criminal career. He's also got a troubling interest in Charlie Hood, who senses the evil beneath Mike's cheery banter and eccentric manners.

The sixth book in the Charlie Hood series, The Famous and the Dead, is out now. We are reading it now and highly recommend it... but if you haven't read any of the series, definitely start with the first and read through the fifth before you pick this one up, or you'll miss the narrative thread that ties all of these fascinating characters and their activities together.

Update: I typed "Flinn" instead of "Finnegan".... doh. Corrected that.

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