The Famous and the Dead

Back in December, I wrote a review of L.A. Outlaws, the first book in the Charlie Hood series by T. Jefferson Parker. To refresh your memory,

T. Jefferson Parker at the Los Angeles Times F...

T. Jefferson Parker at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charlie is a deputy with the LASD, and he’s been attached to the ATF and Operation Blowdown, which is yet another operation that is supposed to curtail the flow of illegal guns into Mexico. Of course, they have a, um, foul-up that equals Fast and Furious when they let a thousand Love 32s go south. The Love 32 is a fictional .32-caliber fully automatic pistol manufactured in Southern California by the equally fictional Pace Arms. As I remember, those thousand guns are all they ever made, and they went to the North Baja Cartel, thanks to Bradley Jones, another LASD deputy.

All of this and more happens over the course of six books, culminating in The Famous and the Dead.

The Famous and the Dead is the final book in the series, according to Mr. Parker. It’s the longest running series he’s ever written, as he tends to do standalones. His other series consists of three books about Merci Rayborn, an Orange County detective. I haven’t read those books, so if someone out there has, let me know how they are.

The Charlie Hood series has some highly unusual characters, to say the least, especially for crime fiction, chief among them being Mike Finnegan. I mentioned him in my review of L.A. Outlaws as seeming to have supernatural origins. Well, in the interest of not posting spoilers, I won’t tell you how that turns out.

The Famous and the Dead is probably the most sedate of the series, but that doesn’t mean nothing happens. Mr. Parker introduces us to some crooked cops from the fictional Russell County, Missouri, who are out in SoCal to sell some guns out of their evidence room. And they’re not too picky about whether or not these guns end up going across the border.

Meanwhile, Charlie has taken on an undercover persona called “Charlie Diamonds” because he’s had diamond fillings put in his left canine. Charlie Diamonds is a gun dealer, supposedly legit, but most of the movers and shakers know Charlie will move pretty much anything.

All this and more is added to the plot lines Mr. Parker has been juggling for the past five novels. And like a master weaver, Mr. Parker brings all these lines to a conclusion, many of them in surprising ways, others in ways that make sense in hindsight (like so many things do). The endings are consistent, too, with real life, in that no one really wins or loses, but adapts and moves on.

I’ll miss Charlie Hood. But I’m curious as to what Mr. Parker has in store for us next. I guess we’ll have to wait a year or so to find out, though.




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