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The Last Good Guy (A Roland Ford Novel) Paperback – June 30, 2020
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“[An] adrenaline-charged adventure.”—The New York Times Book Review
“The Last Good Guy [is] the latest entry in an engaging series of novels by T. Jefferson Parker…All the good gals and guys in Mr. Parker’s winning story have the reader rooting for them, and of course they root for one another.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Mystery writer T. Jefferson Parker stands out with The Last Good Guy… [this] is the best Roland Ford mystery yet, and one of Parker’s strongest. It’s a twisty cautionary tale that will leave readers pondering the damage done in the name of misguided religious fervor and patriotism and yearning for more good guys like Ford to bring justice to our world.”—Los Angeles Times
“Parker tells the tale in tight, vivid prose that at times borders on the lyrical.”—Associated Press
“T. Jefferson Parker is one of our great novelists as well as thriller writers, the reasons for which are all keenly on display in The Last Good Guy… [the novel] may share ground tonally with the works of the genre’s masters, but Parker has wondrously carved out his own territory as well in crafting an extraordinary, pitch-perfect tale that just might be the best crime thriller of 2019.”—Providence Journal
“[T. Jefferson Parker] does a masterly job of ratcheting up the tension, and the often lyrical prose is a pleasure to read. This entry could well earn three-time Edgar Award–winner Parker a fourth Edgar.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In this powerful thriller, Parker leaves us aching for the damaged souls left behind by false prophets and hate-mongers, and hoping that there still really are some good guys.”—Booklist (starred review)
“In the third case for his franchise hero, the prolific Parker summons the memory of retro hard-boiled crime yarns.”—Kirkus Reviews
“As is typical for Parker's novels, the stage upon which the story unfolds is a microcosm of today's America, with racism and intolerance, the escalating struggle between conservatives and liberals and the pervasive intelligence of megachurches and the politics espoused therein. As is also typical of Parker's novels, it is a mighty fine read.”—BookPage
“Parker delivers another exceptional noir....Readers of C.J. Box will enjoy the strong character development, fans of James Patterson will delight in the twists and turns, while T.C. Boyle fans will appreciate the atmospheric California setting.”—Library Journal
“Character-driven with plenty of action and evocative SoCal scenery.”—The Day
“T. Jefferson Parker’s third Roland Ford novel (following last year’s Swift Vengeance) should interest fans of Michael Connelly and John Sandford. Parker has had a long and successful career, but Ford is perhaps his best character so far, and this series just keeps getting better.”—The Real Book Spy
“T. Jefferson Parker draws the classical hard-boiled detective story out of its mythic past and into our contemporary landscape, much like the last great exemplar of the form, Ross Macdonald—and like Macdonald, Parker goes deeper with each book. The payoff for his readers is serious thrills.”—Jonathan Lethem
“The Last Good Guy, the third outing for smart, tough, insightful, sympathetic Private Investigator Roland Ford, is nothing short of brilliant as it morphs from a simple missing persons case into a complex and nuanced exploration of the dark side of American culture.”—John Lescroart
“T. Jefferson Parker’s The Last Good Guy is a riveting crime drama with an engaging hero up against insurmountable odds as he tries to track down a woman’s missing sister. With intelligence, action, and humor, the pages turn themselves to a thrilling climax.”—Mark Greaney
“Fabulously atmospheric. Parker writes with a cinematic eye and a thrillingly dark heart.”—Peter James
About the Author
- Publisher : G.P. Putnam's Sons (June 30, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 432 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0525537651
- ISBN-13 : 978-0525537656
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.25 x 1.06 x 7.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #257,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The reason I do not give five stars is that I am tired of fiction authors dropping their political beliefs into their work in a sly and sneaky manner. Parker drones on about the virtuous Central American illegal alien ... turns around 9/11 where the evil Americans plot to kill Muslims... the complaint that architectural styles developed in the Renaissance are anachronistic.
These narrative anomaly’s can get cumbersome when they all land square on one side of the coin.
Here Roland is hired by a woman named Penelope Rideout who wants him to find her sister, Daley. Their parents are dead and Penelope is Daley's legal guardian. Daley is barely a tween-ager who has an interest in older men. When one is found with a bullet in his forehead Roland realizes that this is going to be much more than a simple missing persons case.
In the course of his investigation he will meet a preacher whose skills and libido match that of Elmer Gantry, the head of a white supremacy network, his addled heiress wife and a security company whose acronym veils one of the story's more interesting mysteries. We visit the San Onofre nuclear power plant (now decommissioned; it actually exists) and a date farm (i.e. a farm that grows dates, not a hayride destination), a posh La Jolla restaurant, Nixon's old stamping grounds in San Clemente and some nice surfing sites. A local resident, as noted above, Parker knows whereof he speaks and conjures up a vivid setting, replete with local flora and some interesting fauna (e.g. a falcon who will solve any pigeon or seagull problems you might be experiencing in a single power dive).
The story is excellent, the characters fascinating. The plot rhythms are precise and as smooth as polished marble. This is TJP's 25th novel; I've been with him from the get-go, with LAGUNA HEAT. He is a master story teller and THE LAST GOOD GUY is top flight material.
The sex and violence are largely PG; you need not read the Roland Ford novels in order, though you will probably want to do so. If you have not yet discovered Jeff Parker's crime fiction you have many treats in store.
Roland Ford is a former heavyweight boxer whose one professional bout ended in a knockout defeat that left him with a scar that tingles whenever danger approaches. While a soldier, he fought in Iraq, specifically in Fallujah, and saw and experienced more horrific violence than he could have ever imagined, giving him a deep well of pessimism and regret. He was briefly married to his wife, Justine, the daughter of rich parents who bequeathed him and his wife the Rancho de Los Robles in Fallbrook, California as a wedding gift. Justine died in a tragic plane crash a year or so later in her plane, Hall Pass. Having caught the bug of freedom a private plane can provide, Roland purchased another and named it Hall Pass II, using it to fly to various locations in the investigations this series is concerned with.
Ford’s backstory includes his stint in the San Diego Sheriff’s Department where his partner shot and killed a homeless black man, mistaking his wallet for a gun. Roland held fire and his testimony ended his partner’s career, earning him the enmity of the one-time fellow police officers he encounters. This background information is included in each of the three books. While Parker’s writing is very good, I had problems with each of the stories.
In “The Last Good Guy”, Penelope Rideout hires Roland to find her sister, who was seen leaving the site of a murder in the company of members of a mysterious security firm. His investigation takes him to a date farm in the Imperial Valley where he receives a vicious beating at the hands of six heavily armed men who corral him riding ATVs. The rest of the story is about his investigation, Penelope’s changing back-story and the big tent Pastor who’s opened a megachurch near Oceanside.
A truly surprising revelation is made that kicks the story into another gear but when we learn that White Supremacists are the main bad guys, the story veered off the road for me.
We’re treated to a White Supremacist convention where all manner of conspiracy theories and books are for sale, some of them by famous writers (unnamed), and the repulsive beliefs of some of the congregants. This stretched credulity for me and served as a distraction for the rest of the novel. Parker’s writing is strong and the final confrontations are convincing and well written.
Personally, I don’t know any White Supremacists, nor would I have a clue where they might congregate. If I did, I’d avoid them like the plague. My impression of the few meetings of this sort I’m aware of that have been reported in the press, there were more members of the press attending than actual congregants.
The first in the series, “The Room of White Fire”, was concerned with a clandestine government-sponsored torture group that targeted terrorist enemies in Iraq.
The following novel, “Swift Vengeance”, was about a terrorist planning an attack on San Diegans as revenge for his father’s death in Syria at the hands of drone pilot operators in the United States. Much ringing of hands with the finger of guilt pointed at United States Military personnel.
Now I know there are people who will share this moral contempt and he paints his villains as completely contemptuous monsters for the most part. He adds aspects of the compromised characters in “Swift Vengeance” to show them as morally compromised but not evil. Not so the villains in “The Room of White Fire” or “The Last Good Guy”. Whatever shred of decency he might have hinted at matters little at the conclusions.
A positive note are the characters dubbed the Irregulars that stay at the Rancho de Los Robles, rescued by Roland and given a chance to heal. They’re all misfits and yet fit in. One, in particular, is Burt, a man of a mysterious past, a short man, who’s underestimated and always seems to show up at the right time to back Roland Ford up and save his life.
Parker acquitted himself well with his main character, Roland Ford. His back-story is compelling and his interactions with the various characters he comes across are convincing. I read and loved his Charlie Hood series, which is wholly more compelling than this series. He included supernatural elements in that series that were rolled out in a beguiling fashion. The Roland Ford novels contain only a hint of that through the misty character of his dead wife, Justine. The Charlie Hood series was about the gun trade and Mexican cartels and the dangerous characters on both sides of the border. Contemporary and compelling. Roland Ford does misunderstood terrorists, bad Americans and White Supremacists. Some people think White Supremacists are the greatest threat facing society today. I find them marginalized and ridiculous and in far smaller numbers than fear-mongers claim. I’m disappointed that Parker would resort to this sort of villain but much of mainstream entertainment is still obsessed with Hitler’s Germany, the last defeated enemy everyone can agree on. Funny how so many are focused on the past where 20-20 vision is clear, yet see no threats in our current world. White Supremacists may fit in with what’s being taught at the University but they too see it as a systematic rather than an immediate, corporeal threat.
As for “The Last Good Guy’s” villains, Parker failed to provide a compelling back-story for the various racist bad guys other than one of them being caught up in a Boko Haram massacre while he was serving as a Christian missionary in Africa. This unexplained transformation shows undeserved hostility toward Christianity by having him become a racist hater.
Stylistically, Parker avoids the use of the final and in the last of a compound sentence, a choice which does not bother me. His frequent use of sentence fragments also doesn’t bother me. There’s a dreamy quality to his prose, I admire. All three novels are told in the first person, a choice I’ve loved since I discovered Raymond Chandler.