four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
51-Mar-Apr-2011
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0

A Charlie Hood Novel

A-The Border LordsT. Jefferson Parker is a three-time Edgar Award winner. The Border Lords, fourth in a planned six-book series, features a host of characters working along America's southern border and both sides of the law. In the series: L.A. Outlaws ( 4 of 5 Stars May/June 2008), The Renegades (2009), and Iron River (2010).

The Story: When undercover ATF agent Sean Ozburn goes rogue while attempting to infiltrate the drugs and firearms cartels along the U.S.-Mexico border, his wife, Seliah, panics, and Charlie Hood, his best friend and a Los Angeles sheriff's deputy on long-term loan to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, starts to investigate. The situation worsens when Sean murders three cartel gunmen hiding out in a safe house. Charlie desperately needs to find his friend--but Sean, who has refashioned himself as a faith healer, isn't cooperating. Enter a secondary cast of characters, both good and bad, and the stage is set for a savage war between Mexican drug cartels, for ulterior motives, and for deeply compromised morals.
Dutton. 384 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 9780525952008

Los Angeles Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"There's been a great deal of first-rate journalism on this corrosive crisis [drugs and arms trafficking]--some substantial part of it in this newspaper--but no novelist or short story writer in either English or Spanish has come close to portraying its depths and their implications as well, or as artfully, as Parker. ... It's a book that stands firmly in the entertaining, hard-boiled tradition and yet artfully demands serious consideration purely as a superior work of fiction." Tim Rutten

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"Once past the ultrarealistic massacre of three young pistoleros hiding out in a safe house, the narrative trips into hallucinatory territory. ... Parker is a connoisseur of the macabre, and even at their most absurd, his fantasies are always madly entertaining." Marilyn Stasio

Chicago Sun-Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Several plots are juggled at once in The Border Lords, and much like last year's Iron River, surprising elements of an Otherworld crop up. ... After his strong performance in Iron River, I had assumed that Bradley would become the focus of Hood's attention; but I also hadn't known this was a six-book gig, and with two more to go it makes sense to pull back, let Bradley drift just a little into the wings, tell the story from another angle." Randy Michael Signor

Critical Summary

In The Border Lands, T. Jefferson Parker blends morality and ambiguity along the frontier with complexity and aplomb. Although "the narrative trips into hallucinatory territory," notes the New York Times Book Review, the intertwined stories are nothing less than believable, based as they are on the all-too-real multibillion-dollar drug and firearms trade between the United States and Mexico. Parker's "propulsive but pitch-perfect works of social realism continue to chip away at the traditional boundaries between their genre and literary fiction," praises the Los Angeles Times. Although regarded as one of the masters of crime fiction, Parker and this series should appeal to all kinds of readers, particularly those interested in geopolitical relations and an exceptionally well-told story.