Lies and betrayal, money and power lie at the heart of The Jaguar, the new Charlie Hood novel from triple Edgar Award winner T. Jefferson Parker. The book, the fifth Charlie Hood novel, will be released on January 10, 2012. According to Parker, there’s one more in the works.
Erin McKenna, a beautiful songwriter married to a crooked Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, is kidnapped by Benjamin Armenta, the ruthless leader of the powerful Gulf Cartel. But his demands turn out to be as unusual as the crumbling castle in which Erin is kept. She is ordered to compose a unique narcocorrido, a modern-day folk ballad of the kind that have recorded the exploits of the drug dealers, gunrunners, and outlaws who have highlighted Mexican history for generations. Under threat of death, Armenta orders Erin to tell his life story-in music—and write “the greatest narcocorrido of all time.” Allowed to wander the dark hallways of the castle retreat with only a guitar and a mysterious old priest to keep her company, Erin must produce the most beautiful song that these men have ever heard.
As the mesmerizing music and lyrics of Erin’s song cascade from the jungle hideout, they serve as a siren song to the two men who love Erin: her outlaw husband, Bradley Smith, and the lawman Charlie Hood—two men who together have the power to rescue her. Here, amid the ancient beauty and haunted landscape of the Yucatecan lowlands, the long-simmering rivalry between these men will be brought closer to its explosive finale.
Parker continues to show why he receives high praise for his writing. His depiction of how the victim, Erin, develops her music shows the reader precisely how musicians think. And her kidnapper, Benjamin Armenta, is a study of internal conflict. He’s a man who enjoys doing great—and terrible—things with his money and power and knows that he survives only until someone betrays him.
The plotting in The Jaguar is tight and, when the characters take drastic steps, there is no doubt that they had no other choice. Parker also demonstrates his skill as a seasoned writer by always letting his characters do the talking so that the reader stays involved in the story.
Parker, once again, has delivered a novel that shows why he’s been called “his generation’s most accomplished and talented crime novelist.”
FTC Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided by Dutton.