Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Charlie Hood Drives Again

Charlie Hood, a veteran of the Iraq War, is a modern-day lawman with the soul of a 19th century western sheriff. Charlie is a deputy in the L.A. Sheriff's Department, and he cruises the Antelope Valley in the desert north of the city. Charlie loves to drive, preferably alone, and preferably late at night.

One night however, Charlie is paired with another deputy, Terry Laws, known to the rest of the department as "Mr. Wonderful," because of the great job he's done raising his daughters, because of his dedication to the job, the bodybuilding titles he's won, and the charitable work he does in his off-duty hours. Hood and Laws respond to a routine Housing Authority complaint and as they are returning to the patrol car, a gunman appears from behind a tree and murders Laws in a hail of bullets. Hood survives, perhaps because the gun jammed or perhaps the gunman deliberately spared him.

Shortly thereafter, Hood receives a visit from Internal Affairs. The IA people suggest that perhaps "Mr. Wonderful" wasn't so wonderful at all and they want to add Hood to the team and have him investigate Laws. Hood is reluctant; he wants to patrol the county and catch bad guys. He has no taste for investigating fellow cops. But IA offers the usual rejoinder: somebody's got to police the police and, sadly, not all of the bad guys are civilians.

Hood begins his investigation and soon discovers that Laws had an awful lot of money for someone earning a deputy's wages. As he probes deeper into the situation, Charlie is drawn into a sordid world of drugs, money laundering and other illegal activities. But Hood is resolute; he has a strong moral compass, and he will pursue this mess to its conclusion, no matter how distasteful or violent.

This is the second of Parker's books to feature Charlie Hood, and as is always the case in Parker's books, the characters are unique, interesting and sharply drawn. The investigation is intriguing and the climax suitably violent and hair-raising. Parker has written a third book in the Charlie Hood series, Iron River, and one hopes that he will write a lot more.        

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