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L.A. Outlaws Hardcover – February 5, 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Charlie Hood Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The irresistible antihero of this outstanding thriller from bestseller Parker (Laguna Heat) calls herself Allison Murrieta and claims to be a descendant of Joaquin Murrieta, a 19th-century figure who looms large in California folklore (he was either a ruthless robber and killer or an Old West vigilante and Robin Hood). By day, Allison is Suzanne Jones, an eighth-grade history teacher with three sons in Los Angeles; by night, she dons a mask, straps on her derringer and steals from the greedy. Beloved by the media, she never uses the gun; her victims are never sympathetic; and she gives part of her loot to charity. But while stealing diamonds belonging to a master criminal known as the Bull, she witnesses a gangland-style bloodbath at the hands of Lupercio, a ruthless assassin working for the Bull. As she's leaving the scene of the crime, L.A. sheriff's deputy Charles Hood stops her, and that's when the plot gets complicated. The Bull wants his diamonds back. Lupercio knows Murrieta/Jones took them. Hood wants Jones to identify Lupercio. And the public wants to know who Murrieta really is. This tour de force of plotting and characterization may well be Parker's best book. Author tour. (Feb.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

With his 15th novel (after California Girl ***1/2 Jan/Feb 2005, and The Fallen ***1/2 May/June 2006), critics agree that Edgar winner T. Jefferson Parker has written his best book yet. A noir thriller, L.A. Outlaw delighted critics with its fast-placed, suspenseful plot and compelling charactersâ€"a powerful heroine mirrored after Robin Hood, Zorro, and Joaquin Murrieta; a policeman haunted by his ethics and his Iraq tour of duty; and a killer scarred by his past in El Salvador. The plot is anything but hackneyed; the romance never dull. Not only a great choice for crime fans, L.A. Outlaws, with its deep, intelligent characterization, “is popular entertainment at its most delicious” (Washington Post).
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton; 1 edition (February 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525950559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525950554
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,610,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of T. Jefferson Parker, but in his last two novels he seems to have changed his writing style for the worse. LA OUTLAWS is an entertaining, fast-paced romp of a book, but it isn't even remotely believable. While this short novel is certainly fun, it has a borderline silly quality, like a James Patterson potboiler.

Further, much of the nuanced characterization that Parker is well known for is absent here. The main character is more of a cartoon than a real person. She's amusing to read about, but I couldn't identify with her at all. As a result, I found this book less engaging than Parker's other work.

In short, LA OUTLAWS is worth reading, but it's far from Parker's best book. Personally, I strongly prefer Parker's earlier work, like SILENT JOE, THE FALLEN and CALIFORNIA GIRL, which had far more realistic plots and characters. Perhaps Parker is making some necessary concessions to the publishing marketplace, but I hope he returns to his earlier style of storytelling.
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Format: Hardcover
T. Jefferson Parker is an extraordinary writer. If you have not yet discovered his work, do yourself a favor and grab "Silent Joe", "California Girl", "Storm Runners", or start with "L.A. Outlaws"--I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. The rhythms of his writing are so subtly contagious that before you know it, time has melted away and you are 100 pages into the story.

Parker's work reflects spot-on character development and such stunning descriptions of Southern California locales that you immediately recognize the scenes if you have ever been there or feel like you are there even though you have never been there. He can certainly bring the gritty underbelly of LA to life while developing plotlines that never seem hackneyed or repeated. I always find refreshing nuances and new territory in a Parker novel.

In "L.A. Outlaws", the new territory includes a female protagonist who may or may not be a female Robin Hood character. Suzanne Jones is a school teacher and mother of three who lives near an indian reservation for her solitude, peace of mind, and privacy needed to cover her alter-ego, Allison Murietta. Suzanne claims to the media that she is a descendant of Joaquin Murrieta, a real life outlaw in California history who has been portrayed variously as a romantic Robin Hood character and as a murderous brigand.

In her Allison guise, replete with wig, deadly derringer, and fashionable mask, she holds up liquor stores, fast food establishments etc., and "boosts" high end automobiles for sale on the hot car international market. She is amassing quite a fortune but is quick to let the world know that she donates a significant part of her ill acquired gains to local charities.
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Format: Paperback
It is so easy to be a criminal that everyone should do it. The main character, steals cars, shoplifts half the things she has, and sticks up 7-11's almost daily with never even a brush with the law. That is until a random cop sees her leaving the scene of a mass murder shootout where she steals a bag full of diamonds. Not to worry because he winds up loving her. Her personal life is actually a shambles but the author makes it sound happy and normal. Don't waste your time.
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Format: Hardcover
It's hard for me to pick a favorite T. Jefferson Parker book. I tend to favor his later novels, such as SILENT JOE and COLD PURSUIT. Yet occasionally I wonder if he'll ever top LAGUNA HEAT or LITTLE SAIGON. More often than not, however, my favorite Parker title is his latest one. Such is the case with L.A. OUTLAWS, a work that is --- dare I say it? --- perfect from beginning to end.

One is always just a bit off balance when reading a Parker novel. His method of eschewing series books for independent, stand-alone works leaves the reader with more-than-vague expectations as to what will take place. This has never been more true than in L.A. OUTLAWS, which matches a modern-day female bandit against --- and deliciously with --- Charlie Hood, a troubled L.A. County rookie deputy sheriff. The bandit, who calls herself Allison Murrieta, claims to be the direct descendent of a 19th-century California bandito who may or may not have existed, and is as self-assured as Hood is insecure.

An Iraqi war veteran who left the service with unfinished business, Hood is unknowingly drawn into Murrieta's world when he stumbles upon the aftermath of a gang transaction gone terribly wrong, which has left nine gang members and one civilian dead. It is Murrieta who comes in and picks up the spoils --- a small fortune in jewels --- and Hood who unknowingly and unwittingly stops her after the fact in her persona of Suzanne Jones, a history teacher who is as charismatic as she is enigmatic. Hood senses that Jones knows more than she's telling, and pursues her both professionally and romantically, even as he's aware that he's endangering his investigation on the one hand and risking heartbreak on the other.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Perhaps it's not fair to review a book you didn't finish, but since I've read from beginning to end everything else written by T. Jefferson Parker (I loved Silent Joe!), I'm giving it a shot. I couldn't finish L. A. Outlaws because A) I found nothing likeable or credible about Allison/Suzanne and couldn't get past her personal morality, her know-it-all-attitude about cars and everything else, her excuse that she robs the greedy and gives to charity--let her work for a living and give to charity like the rest of us do--and her victims: McDonald's? Burger King? lots of children go into those places and she carries a gun. Why not a Chucky Cheese, while she's at it? Can you tell I didn't like her?; B) Charlie Hood is not very credible, either; C) it's reminiscent but not as well done as No Country for Old Men (anti-hero comes across a stash of ill gotten goods, takes the loot, is identified by both the police and the bad guy, and is pursued by both), and D) I don't need to read another book about a patient with dementia, and E) it doesn't even feel like something written by T. Jefferson Parker.

I don't think Parker is very adept at creating women characters who serve as the heroine or anti-heroine of the story. He had a brief series about a woman detective (his books with a color in the title) and I found her uninteresting, too.

I'm happy for all those who liked it; personally I'll hope for better things in his next one.
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