This is the third T. Jefferson Parker book I've read or, more accurately, tried to read. As with his "Storm Runners", I just had no desire to finish it and set it aside when I hit page 222 of 369.
Other may like Parker's style. I certainly did in "L. A. Outlaws". But he has a penchant, in my mind, going to far in an attempt to create "atmosphere". What Cormac McCarthy pulled off effortlessly in "No Country For Old Men", Parker fails at. The attempted grittiness comes across as an exercise in adjectival description. Three women are introduced: the desire is to render each of them as a somewhat mysterious, complex human being. Instead, they come across as the stuff of comic book romances. The fate of the men is worst. They are all losers in one way or another, no matter if their hats are black or white.
The story is just plain silly. "Iron river" refers to the imaginary flow of firearms from the United States to Mexico. This was a scare headline a few months back, alleging that a tidal wave of guns from the United States was responsible for the thousands of drug related homicides in Mexico. The truth became quickly known: the weapons used in these crimes were coming from other South and Latin American countries, including the Mexican military and law enforcement establishments. Parker tries to further hype the fakery by depicting a fading boy genius at the head of a bankrupt firearms factory who has designed a revolutionary automatic weapon which he agrees to make in quantity for and sell to a drug lord. Anyone at all familiar with firearms will recognize at this point that Parker is dealing in pure fantasy which he presents as reality wrapped in fiction.
On top of this he sets a character who miraculously survives being hit by a speeding car and who might be crazy or just someone who sees the future. One of the three truly unreal women is his daughter.
Parker never pulls all the pieces together. Frankly, I should have quit a hundred or so pages in and been done with it.
Now, all that said, I can't say it is an awful book. Parker is a more than competent writer and when he stays focused, as in "L.A. Outlaws", he turns in great work. But like "Storm Runners", he is all over the place. A little Cormac McCarthy here, a little Dean Koontz there. How about some Coen brothers "Fargo" touches? No problem. Except the resulting book is a problem - in my opinion, it Is deadly dull. Someone else, however, who likes this kind of style may find it a compelling read.
I would strongly suggest that if you are in a bookstore, that you read the first 25 or 50 pages before you buy this. Do not buy it because of the dust cover blurb or a review. Either this is your style or it isn't.
In LA Sheriff's Deputy Charlie Hood's third adventure, set in the border town of Buenavista, Hood joins an ATF operation to stem gunrunning to Mexico. When a weapons-buy ends in the accidental death of a cartel leader's son, the bad guys take revenge, abducting and torturing the agent responsible. Naturally a rescue is in the offing. Meanwhile, a bankrupt arms dealer finds a way to get the family business going again by selling an ingenious untraceable gun - his design - … more
T. Jefferson Parker's latest novel, Iron River: A Charlie Hood Novel is strangely fascinating. Although Charlie Hood is the main character, the strange character to whom I refer is Mike Finnegan... The book opens with Finnegan being severely hurt in an automobile accident and Hood and others visit him throughout the book, trying to discover who he is and how he knows so much! He seeks a favor from Hood, to find and determine how his daughter is doing; and he then becomes indebted … more