THE BORDER LORDS by T. Jefferson Parker

Book Quote:

” ‘Good and evil are not always separate,’ said Arriaga. ‘They are often together. They are part of us – present, changing, unequal.’ ”

Book Review:

Review by Lynn Harnett  (FEB 05, 2011)

In his fourth Charlie Hood thriller, three-time Edgar winner Parker continues to mine the violent drug and arms trafficking over the Mexico/California border. Hood, 32, an L.A. Sheriff’s Department officer, has been on loan to the ATF for 15 months, assigned to drug operations in this “often infernal, often violent, often beautiful desert.” It’s a place Hood has come to love – and fear.

This time out the central plot concerns an undercover ATF agent, Sean Ozburn, who seems to have gone berserk. Early one morning, while his team (which includes Hood) is monitoring a trio of cartel-affiliated teen killers in a rented safe house, owned by the ATF, the cameras suddenly go dark and all three boys die in a hail of bullets.

There isn’t much doubt about who did it. For one thing, Ozburn was briefly caught on camera disabling the feed right before the murders. Ozburn also took one of their guns – a newly designed machine pistol called Love 32 (fans will remember this lethal beauty from Iron River) and they suspect he’s on his way to the next cartel-rented safe-house full of young killers.

The subplot concerns a character fans will also remember, Bradley Jones, a charming little psychopath who is now an LA sheriff’s deputy and a cash courier for a Mexican cartel. On his first day at work he manages to bust out a kidnap victim (the son of a U.S. cartel connection), killing most of the kidnappers (from a rival cartel) in the process.

Point of view switches among Hood, Ozburn, his wife Seliah, and Jones as the plots hurtle towards a violent dovetailing. Seliah Ozburn cooperates with Hood’s team, sharing her email password so they can monitor her husband’s increasingly erratic – and erotic – emails. Of course she also sets up a simple code with Sean so she can still communicate privately.

Eventually Hood’s team will realize that something has happened to Sean and the symptoms are showing up in his wife too. A toxin perhaps, or a virus, that makes them aggressive, highly sexual and averse to water. As the prologue concerns a priest in a bat cave, readers will have their suspicions. And Seliah tells Hood that the symptoms began on their vacation to Costa Rica when they became friendly with a priest.

Meanwhile Bradley Jones is playing a dangerous game, juggling his two lives and his several clever schemes. As always there’s plenty of action and gore and a hint of mysticism (not necessarily benign). The world of the drug cartels grows, if possible, even more evil and sadistic, while a solution seems ever more hopeless.

Parker’s fans will be well satisfied, but newcomers should start at the beginning. The stories stand on their own well enough, but the characters – including the cartel boss – develop with each book, and it’s helpful to have the background.

AMAZON READER RATING: from 44 readers
PUBLISHER: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (January 11, 2011)
REVIEWER: Lynn Harnett
AUTHOR WEBSITE: T. Jefferson Parker
EXTRAS: interview with T. Jefferson Parker (2009)
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February 5, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: California, Mexico, Sleuths Series, Wild West, y Award Winning Author

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