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Iron River Hardcover – January 5, 2010
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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Robert Crais is the author of the best-selling Joe Pike and Elvis Cole novels and the 2006 recipient of the Ross Macdonald Literary Award. Crais lives in the Santa Monica mountains with his wife, three cats, and many thousands of books.
Read on to see Robert Crais's questions for T. Jefferson Parker, or turn the tables to see what Parker asked Crais.Crais: Though you've revisited characters earlier in your career, you've mostly written standalone novels. But now with The Border Lords, this is, what, your fourth Charlie Hood novel in a row? This is great news because I love to read about Charlie, but I'm curious why you love to write him. What is it about Charlie Hood that brings you back to him again and again?
Parker: Glad you like him, Bob. Yeah, it’s Charlie’s fourth book and I’m going to do two more. I like Charlie because he’s a good reliable witness to events, and he always tries to do the right thing, and thus far in the series, he’s constantly over-matched. Which is different than being hapless. I love an underdog. You’d think the fact that Charlie is not only a Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputy and a member of a federal ATF task force would make him very much the overdog. But he's not. Charlie’s world in The Border Lords is Mexico, where the law is weak and wickedness prevails. He’s the little guy. But he’s smart, principled and brave, too.
Crais: We've been at this game a long time. Between us, that's a lot of crime novels, bro. You ever consider writing something completely different? I know you're an avid fisherman. Ever fantasize about writing the Jeff Parker version of The Old Man and the Sea?
Parker: I do think about writing something other than crime novels, then my nasty little imagination kicks in and I’m off on another crime! I got to write a “fishing mystery” that was published earlier this year, so that was a nice compromise. But even that turned criminal. I remember a birthday party I went to when I was seven years old. They had a whole bunch of costumes you could choose from – you could be a cowboy or an Indian or a Martian or whatever. Just dress up and wreak havoc with the other little savages. So what did little Jeffy pick? I picked a devil costume. Man, what does that say?
Crais: Pbooks or Ebooks? Do you care?
Parker: I hate e-books and electronic reading gadgets and wish they’d all go away. But of course they won’t. I also think books are going to be around a lot longer than some people think/want. They’ll be secretly trafficked by unrepentant book lovers, a full-on black market. Want the new Bob Crais in hardcover? A thousand bucks, man. Sold!
Crais: You and I have both had a film adapted from our novels, me with Hostage, and you with Laguna Heat. I tend to avoid Hollywood's overtures, but a lot of our writer friends like Mike Connelly, Dennis Lehane, and Harlan Coben have allowed their work to be developed with pretty good results. What's your take on Hollywood? Any chance we'll see Charlie Hood at the movies?
Parker: Charlie’s under an option right now with Lionsgate, on behalf of Carl Franklin, whose work I love. My whole experience with Laguna Heat was positive, and I’d like to see another TJP movie. But I feel protective of Charlie Hood, also. I wouldn’t let him go to just anybody. In fact I’ve demanded to star as Charlie if the movie gets made, which my agent says is a possible deal-killer. No, seriously, I’d love to see a good movie.
Crais: Tell the truth, Jeff--what's your favorite snack food when you're writing?
Parker: Used to be cigarettes! But now it’s anything containing peanut butter. Those little orange Keebler crackers with the peanut-butter between ‘em? Oh, man. Start me up. On to the next chapter!
(Photo of Robert Crais © exleyfotoinc)
(Photo of T. Jefferson Parker © Rebecca Lawson)
From Publishers Weekly
In bestseller Parker's disappointing third Charlie Hood novel (after The Renegades), Hood, a Los Angeles sheriff's deputy, joins Operation Blowdown, an attempt to staunch the near constant flow of money and guns across the U.S.-Mexican border. When a shootout during a botched weapons buy leaves the son of the head of a powerful Mexican cartel dead, the fight becomes personal as cartel soldiers cross the border to take revenge on Hood's team. Meanwhile, a faulty product has driven Pace Arms, a family-owned gun manufacturer, nearly to bankruptcy. Unbeknownst to Hood, the man brokering an illegal deal between Pace and another Mexican cartel chief for the production of a revolutionary handgun is Bradley Smith (aka Bradley Jones), the son of bank robber Allison Murrietta, the antiheroine of L.A. Outlaws, the first and best entry in the series. In this installment, the massive scale of the criminal activity overwhelms the characters. (Jan.)
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BUTtttt. I also had a very difficult getting into this book. I have the book on tape and maybe that is the problem. But none the less. It was so hard to follow. Too many people to keep track of. The story was pretty convoluted. I restarted the at least three times and I could not follow it any of the times I restarted it. I am sorry for the poor review. I really am. I will read more from this writer and give him the benefit of the doubt.......
Beth Petty is the doctor treating Mike Finnegan who becomes Mike's love interest in this book and blocks any chance of anything developing between Hood and Owens. We are also introduced to a Mexican police officer, Luna, who is built like a bull and has a strong ethical foundation tied to his country. He leads a team of agents into Mexico, under a cover of silence, and frees Holdstock. On the second try to free Jimmy he is tempted by the Zeta's of Mexico but he is too ethical to turn so he is killed. Another character has been introduced, Ron Pace, an American of questionable morals and little ethical sense. He is a gun designer and manufacturer interested only in his product, selling to any buyer and not interested in the uses to which his guns may be turned. He is the opposite of Bradley Jones and may be his replacement in later books, surprisingly I have little interest in finding out his future in any of the Hood books. There are several other minor characters, some of whom must have appeared in earlier Hood novels but are of little importance to the plot in this book.
Ron Pace is introduced as a first person narrator, the next time we meet him, in the company of Bradley Jones it is third person, and I thought Parker had goofed in his writing. But from then on, when he is central, Pace again uses first person. It was very disturbing and I still can not figure out why Parker would pull such tricks. It helped lower the rating.
It seems to be trendy to end novels/movies with more questions than answers, but it struck me as a cop-out with this one. If there were an additional 100 pages with a satisfying ending I could see giving it 5 stars. 3.5 stars. Definitely worth reading.