Cold Pursuit - T. Jefferson Parker

I really love mystery novels, especially ones with depth and history to them. Cold Pursuit by T. Jefferson Parker is a homicide cop story, with Tom McMichael as a mid-30s Irishman, newly divorced. The dead guy is an 80-something Portuguese fisherman named Braga who is the grandfather of Tom's childhood sweetheart. It's a Romeo-Juliet history, with Tom's grandfather being slain by this fisherman, and Tom's father getting revenge by beating senseless Braga's eldest son. The two families have been hostile ever since.

There is of course the young nurse who the family is all jealous of, the various criminal activities that Braga was a partner to, and the political ramifications of various land deals. The number of people who could have killed Braga stack up by the moment. Tom and his partner try to track down each lead, but Tom of course gets tangled up with Nurse Rainwater, breaking every cop's first rule - don't get involved with a suspect.

This isn't a thriller or a film noir, but that's fine - it's more a Law & Order episode where you piece through the clues and try to decipher what is meaningful. I enjoyed the very detailed descriptions of San Diego, a place I've only been to once but found quite fascinating. I appreciated how vividly Parker played out the life in this corner of the US vs the squalor of Tiajuana, and this difference does become quite important to the plot.

That being said, part of the appeal of cop stories or who-killed-him tales is the deciphering of the clues. You should at least be able to pick up on hints and see what's going on. Not here. He gives a ton of clues, but the connection isn't revealed until the 'a-ha' moment. There were very few times that he foreshadowed and each time it was rather blatant.

On the other hand, I did enjoy the detail put into the life of a fisherman, and the troubles caused by changing times. I enjoyed the active participation of the 'seniors' of the family in the storyline, and their problems and worries discussed with insight. I found it amusing that numerous women seemed to be flinging themselves at Tom at various points in the story. I suppose that happens in most books of this genre though.

As a life-long owner of parakeets I did have one problem that bothered me - parakeets do NOT need grit!! It seems like a silly little error, but I hope people with parakeets who read this book don't read that section and think "Oh I didn't know parakeets needed grit, I'll go get some". It's pigeons who need grit, not parakeets. That mistaken idea is back from the 1950s.

In any case, while there were some contrived sections, I did enjoy the story and the atmosphere. It was an enjoyable afternoon read!

California Girl - T. Jefferson Parker

Mystery Book Reviews and Movie Reviews