Charlie Hood is back for his second outing, after 2007's L.A. Outlaws. In the wake of outlaw Allison Murrietta's murder, and the ensuing internal affairs investigation generated by that episode, Hood has asked the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department for--and received--a reassignment to the desert. The desert has many of the same evils as the city--gangs, meth, poverty--but has the advantage of wide open spaces, a territory that requires Hood to spend hour upon hour driving, his favorite thing to do.
Just months into this posting Hood's patrol partner--Terry Laws, known by the guys as "Mr. Wonderful"-- is murdered. Sitting in the driver's seat of their patrol car, Hood is spared for reasons unknown. LASD's Internal Affairs department assigns Hood to investigate his late partner, to determine what he might have done to precipitate this event. (Or, of course, to keep his name clear...but we know that's not going to happen, don't we?)
Terry Laws was beloved by the guys in the LASD. He was a bodybuilding champion and a champion of the annual Toys for Tots drive. But oh, the dirt to be found when you dig deep enough. Deputies on the take, murder and betrayal, law enforcement in bed with narcotrafficers. Once again, Charlie Hood is on the wrong side of his peers by being on the right side of the law.
And once again, Hood has a beautiful love interest. This time around, though, Ariel Reed, the race-car driving prosecutor, is a little more PC of a choice on his part than an infamous outlaw. And--thankfully for poor Charlie Hood, who seems to have more bad luck than good--she's alive and well by novel's end.
T. Jefferson Parker writes a terrific thriller. His writing is crisp and clear, his landscapes evocative and his characters pleasingly well-rounded--warts, ethical conflicts and all. Highly recommended (as is all of his backlist).