The first Charlie Hood novel is, LA Outlaws; the second, the Renegades.
I have read quite a few of Parker’s novels, so he’s no stranger to me. It had been awhile since I checked up on any recent releases so I had a look and discovered I had missed two; both Charlie Hood novels.
I like T. Jefferson Parker, but as a successful writer I expect him to hire adequate proof readers with noted expertise. Since he obviously hasn’t, or he’s just too prima donna to find readers that have balls enough to tell him the truth, I am going to rip him a new asshole.
As far as I know, having a recurring character is something new for T. Jefferson Parker. Charlie Hood returned from Iraq in 2005 and then joined the Los Angeles Sheriff Department. Charlie has some very slight defects, but he’s an honest cop and there really isn’t anything special about him. He’s boring and predictable.
When you’re reading the book and you imagine what he is probably going to do next, you can pretty much assume that is exactly what he’s going to do. I don’t have any issue with this for the most part. Especially not in Outlaws, because there are two antagonists in this book that are interesting enough to where I can forgive Parker’s boring deputy.
I mean, come on, can’t he have some other dark secret that makes him a little twisted or capable of potentially screwing up like the rest of us? Where’s the fun? I like Charlie, but I want this guy to surprise me sometime.
When he’s revisited by an acquaintance from Iraq I think, okay, here it comes. But as it turns out it’s the acquaintance that’s got problems and predictably, Charlie’s all about fixing him up and sending him on his way. This guy is like a boy scout or something, except you can be certain he didn’t even participate in the circle jerk at the scoutorama.
While Outlaws has its edgy side, Renegades is like its long lost eunuch brother. There aren’t even any truly diabolically screwed up thieves or murderers in it. It’s like watching a watered down version of the Sopranos made for Nick at Night. It’s a real let down.
A note: as a writer, I don’t like to play the critical critique. In fact, if I don’t like something, I usually put the book down and forget it. In the rare instances I do happen to finish something and don’t feel compelled to say anything good about it I just drop it. In this case though, I have read several books by T. Jefferson Parker and have always enjoyed them. But with this new Charlie Hood series, he has plunged into the realm of a sinking wangbone! Being a fan of his I believe it is only my duty to let him know that he has let me down. With all due respect Mr. T. Jefferson get it together bro. This was so unlike you ya big doink!
In Outlaws it was bad enough when the super evil bad guy was still driving a car that was used during the conveyance of the murders of “two” cops in cold blood, even though it has been mentioned all over the evening news. I mean, I understand that his car is his soul, no matter if his soul is a lame 1979 Lincoln Continental, but he just killed two cops using this car and everyone and their sister, brother, mother and father is on the look out for it.
Fortunately, they’re in L.A. where everyone is too busy checking out the neighbor’s new implants to notice the big black 1979 Lincoln with front end damage driving by.
Add to the fact that this guy is obviously well above average intellect on the evil mastermind scale index. That he could be that smart and that stupid at the same time bothered me for the rest of the book. Just like in Spinal Tap the ridiculous factor went beyond eleven here. I could get into other lame details of similar scope here, but what’s the point.
In Renegades I was truly flabbergasted when I read the Author’s Note at the end. Parker gives a glowing thanks for all of his experts. Including one Dave Bridgman for guns. Meanwhile, in this book Parker talks about a Desert Eagle Revolver.
A Desert Eagle Revolver… my God that was the icing on the cake. The Desert Eagle is a large caliber clip fed semiautomatic handgun, which gained notoriety during the Desert Storm conflict. This gun is NOT a revolver. This to me is akin to blasphemy in a cop novel. I am just astounded at how stupid this was. If you don’t know what you’re talking about then just don’t mention it.
For the record, I listened to the audio version of LA Outlaws between nightly readings of the Renegades. I do not recommend doing this. Renegades gives away a lot of the most interesting details of Outlaws, which is without a doubt the better book.
When I first started listening to LA Outlaws I was immediately disconcerted when I realized they had enlisted a female reader for the female characters and a male reader for the male parts. I usually dislike this immensely. It’s confusing and pointless. But it works very well in this book. The woman, Susan Erickson, is a great reader and has a perfect smart-alecky personality for the main female character and I liked her a lot. She has one of those voices where this male listener was wondering if she was as hot as she sounds. And no, I never googled her to find out. The man does a respectable job as well. I forget his name though.
Even though I was very upset about the evil doer driving his obviously too hot to handle Lincoln, I would recommend this audiobook for cheap and easy listening. It was fun and kind of sexy.
If you can get by the flubs, these are both mindless cop detective-type books, entertaining and easy to read. If you can’t and you want to read or listen to something much better by T. Jefferson Parker, try California Girl. That book is well written and thought out and translates to a super cool audiobook.