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Retro Reading: Iron River by T. Jefferson Parker


As I started the half-way point in this series, I kept reminding myself that I would finish this series, no matter what. I kept reminding myself every time I turned the page.

After reading the first twenty or so pages, the book sat on my nightstand for at least three weeks and stared at me daily, so, I finally reserved a day and read over two hundred pages and I kept telling myself that I would finish this series, every time I turned the page.

In this installment, Charlie Hood is now working and living in Buenavista, California, a hotbed for drug and weapons trafficking.

Somewhere out in the desert, Mike Finnegan is changing a tire and is involved in a car accident where he's left for dead but manages to crawl his way further into the desert where he's found by chief of police Gabriel Reyes.

During a stakeout at Guns a Million, Hood is on the roof recording while other agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are setting up a deal. When things go wrong, the son of Benjamin Armenta (the head of the Gulf Cartel) is dead and agent Jimmy Holdstock is identified as the shooter.

Following his identification, Holdstock is taken hostage and is held somewhere in Mexico. Hood and the other agents are concerned that Holdstock will become another victim in the violence of "the iron river" region, but they will not negotiate with Mexico to get him back.

Ron Pace, owner of the bankrupt Pace Arms, has been meeting with Bradley Smith, a representative of another arms manufacturer about an illegal gun deal. Smith is looking for over a thousand weapons and Pace, a designer, has just the right gun for him.

While Hood is settling into his rented house, Bradley Jones and Erin McKenna come by to invite him to their upcoming wedding. Bradley steps inside the house and comes out in his uniform letting Hood know that he had gotten into the Explorer program without Hood's help. But, Hood doesn't know that Bradley is the Bradley Jones who's brokering the Pace deal. He only finds out when he questions the owner of Guns a Million and sees his picture.

The agents are able to rescue Holdstock and following the Jones-McKenna wedding, Holdstock is taken hostage again and taken back to Mexico, this time in the mountains.

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Hood also can't figure out how Finnegan knows so much about what's happening with the agents since nothing has been made public. Finnegan tells him that he's invincible and has been around for many events. He doesn't say if he's representing good or evil and he disappears from the hospital.

During a stakeout outside Pace Arms, Hood sees Bradley going in and even though he's a sort of guardian to him, he knows that he needs to arrest him for his illegal dealings with Pace, but when the time comes, he eludes arrest.

Because there's so much going on in the book (along with a lot of characters) its hard to keep up as to what is going on.

With this being the third installment, many characters resurface, and I think had Parker stayed with two subplots (mainly the Jones and Holstock storylines) I think the story would have been much better. These two are basically the strongest out of the story, and I think there's still a lot of Bradley that we'll be seeing in the final three installments.

Bradley is an important character since he was introduced in the first installment as the son of Suzanne Jones, who was murdered in an attempted robbery under the name of Allison Murrieta. We know that she taught him things, and the now nineteen-year-old has been gaining a reputation. He manages to fly under the radar with his illegal activities.

Plus, his now wife, Erin, has gotten a recording contract which should be putting him front and center for more illegal shenanigans.

What also makes this a tough read is whenever Parker writes about Pace, it goes into first person writing and you have to stop and think for a minute as to who he's writing about. It does get confusing, along with trying to keep up with all of the characters.

But, somewhere along the way, the story does become interesting. I guess it just depends on which plotline you want to follow.

While I still have three more installments to go, I have a feeling that most of the characters in this installment will be popping up again.

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