For fans of Michael Connelly and CJ Box, the fifth audacious and white-hot novel in the Charlie Hood series from New York Times bestseller and Edgar-award winner T. Jefferson Parker redefines the landscape of the thriller and shatters every expectation you ever had about the good guys and the bad. Now featuring an excerpt from his upcoming novel The Room of White Fire.
When Benjamin Armenta, leader of the powerful Gulf Cartel, kidnaps songwriter Erin McKenna, his demands are as unique as the jungle fortress in which Erin is imprisoned. She’s ordered to compose a narcocorrido, a folk ballad that will romanticize Armenta as one of the greatest desperadoes in Mexican history. Allowed to wander the hallways of the castle with only a guitar and a mysterious old priest to keep her company, Erin must produce the loveliest song these men have ever heard. Or she’ll be skinned alive.
As Erin’s music wafts through the jungle, it serves as a siren call to the two men who love her: lawman Charlie Hood and Erin’s outlaw husband, Bradley Jones. They have the power to rescue her, but their long-simmering rivalry could very well compromise Erin’s deliverance and cause the ending of a life-and-death ballad to be rewritten in blood.
In Parker s excellent fifth Charlie Hood novel (after 2011 s The Border Lords), Bradley Jones, a deputy in the L.A. sheriff s department who s been transporting drugs for a Mexican cartel since he was 17, turns to fellow deputy Hood for help after henchmen of a rival cartel kidnap Jones s pregnant wife, Erin. If Jones doesn t pay the rival cartel s leader, Benjamin Armenta, $1 million within 10 days as an apology for the trouble he s caused Armenta, Armenta will have Erin skinned alive. Parker demonstrates remarkable command of his material, from the gruesome realities of the Mexican drug trade to a surprisingly human portrayal of the monstrous Armenta, who keeps a menagerie of animals, including the jaguar of the book s title, at his compound in Quintana Roo. A somewhat opaque subplot involving the dodgy Mike Finnegan, a bathroom-products wholesaler, distracts only slightly from the quest for Erin in a crime thriller notable for its fine, insightful prose.