The Border Lords is Parker's fourth Charlie Hood novel, although Hood is not really the main character. You can read my original review of the first, L.A. Outlaws, in the previous post here, and the same thing is true of that book. Hood's part in that story is to act as foil and contrast for Alison Murietta/Suzanne Jones and in this one he's performing the same role for two people: Sean Ozburn, an undercover ATF agent who has gone renegade, and Bradley Jones, a brand-new and massive corrupt deputy LA County Sheriff, which is what Hood himself used to be. Jones, as it happens, is Suzanne's son, and he blames Hood for his mother's death. That's a fascinating subplot, which presumably will run as the series continues, but it is Ozburn's manic odyssey as a rogue undercover that is the real core of the book. Hood tracks down the reason behind this turn, in the process hears of the strange Father Joe Leftwich, a priest who befriended Ozburn and his wife when they were on vacation, and somehow seems to be at the centre of Ozburn's behaviour.
Writing about L.A.Outlaws, I said that Parker takes risks; that novel ran the risk of being strangled by its own gimmick, but he handled it so well he got away with it. This one has a gimmick too—parts of which seem very obvious (I won't go into details, to avoid spoiling) but which connect finally into something which is more John Connolly territory, a cross-over of the supernatural into crime. It's a nice contrast, especially to the expert way Jones plays the politics of the Sherrif's department, and Hood doesn't do so well with ATF.
The Border Lords by T. Jefferson Parker
New American Library, $15.00, ISBN 97804512355565