Iron River: A Charlie Hood Novel by T. Jefferson Parker
Deputy Charlie Hood (The Renegades, 2009, etc.) copes with love, war and a baffling being who might be an angel, a demon, conceivably both, or none of the above. Detached from the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Hood is sent south to join Operation Blowdown, assembled to war against the much-too-successful Mexican drug cartels. It’s an overwhelmingly difficult job, never-ending and ever-perilous. As evidence of this, Jimmy Holdstock, one of Charlie’s young colleagues, is suddenly snatched by a particularly ruthless cartel-object: torture, mutilation and the kind of prolonged, very public death wickedly calculated to dampen law-enforcement enthusiasm. In the immediate aftermath of the kidnapping, an envelope arrives at Blowdown headquarters, containing a pair of Polaroids. Pictured in one is a dramatically ill-treated Jimmy; in the other, a still-life formed by “a pair of pliers, an electric circular saw, and a long-nozzled barbecue lighter.” Clearly, Jimmy needs to be rescued fast.
Meanwhile, Mike Finnegan, a strange little man who might furnish some helpful answers resides, severely injured, in the ICU of Buenavista Hospital. He sends for Charlie. The two have never met, but Charlie can’t ignore the existence of a peculiar sort of connection between them. They talk. Finnegan wants Charlie to find his missing daughter and offers a quid pro quo that may or may not pertain to the beset Jimmy. The little man-nothing if not mysterious-knows things he can’t possibly: about Blowdown, about Charlie’s private life. Moreover, he really should have died as the result of his injuries, and not even lovely, smart Dr. Beth Petty can explain his survival. So who or what is Mike Finnegan? It’sanybody’s guess. Lacks the seamlessness of Parker’s best plotting, but indomitable Charlie is, as always, irresistible. Hard not to warm to a man who-no matter the adversity-insists that “Hope counts.”