Why isn't T. Jefferson Parker as famous as, say, James Patterson or Robert B. Parker? He's that good, and in some ways better. In Cold Pursuit
, his 11th novel, San Diego homicide cop Tom McMichael finds himself investigating the bludgeoning death of Pete Braga, a prominent city patriarch who was also a blood enemy of the McMichael family. It's a complex case fraught with political and economic pressures, ugly family history, police corruption, and multiple red herrings, made more complex by McMichael's romantic attraction to a key suspect.
Parker's writing is a pleasure from the first sentence to the last: intelligent, often quietly poetic, cliché-free, and as crisp and dry as a good Pinot Gris. Here is the book's opening paragraph, which accomplishes several scene-setting tasks while pleasing both ear and brain:
That night the wind came hard off the Pacific, an El Nino event that would blow three inches of rain onto the roofs of San Diego. It was the first big storm of the season, early January and overdue. Palm fronds lifted with a plastic hiss and slapped against the windows of McMichael's apartment. The digitized chirp of his phone sounded ridiculous against the steady wind outside.
At times the book's richly complex plot gets confusing, and some sections aren't especially suspenseful. However, every page is absorbing and affecting, and the ending is a shocker. Peopled by a teeming cast of full-blooded characters and set in a San Diego so vivid you can smell the beach and the blood, Cold Pursuit may be Parker's subtlest, most satisfying tale yet. --Nicholas H. Allison
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From Publishers Weekly
Parker, whose Silent Joe won an Edgar in 2001, can turn his hand to many genres: this one is a thriller with elements of family feud, and with a setting-San Diego in an unusually rainy winter-that is wonderfully moody. Homicide cop Tom McMichael is called in on the murder of wealthy old Pete Braga, a legendary local character who was once a tuna fisherman and now moves in the city's top financial circles. The problem is that his Portuguese family and McMichael's Irish one have a rivalry going back two generations. The details of that past, and the picture that emerges of two feisty old men locked into a bitter battle, are the brightest part of the book. The actual plot is more conventional: Braga's attractive nurse is an obvious suspect, so it is unwise for Tom to fall for her. Was the patriarch's killing related to local politics, or perhaps to his changed will? There are numerous red herrings-including a lurid subplot about a crooked cop and a very surprising commodity being smuggled across the border from Mexico-before the violent, rather improbable denouement. It's not unusual for a thriller to begin much better than it ends, but the more eloquent passages of Cold Pursuit make the routine ones doubly disappointing.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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