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Cold Pursuit    by T. Jefferson Parker order for
Cold Pursuit
by T. Jefferson Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

By pure coincidence, Homicide cop Tom McMichael's Team Three is offered the case of the savage murder of Pete Braga, a prominent and wealthy citizen of the city of San Diego. This is significant in light of the well-known, bitter and violent feud that has existed between the Irish McMichaels and the Portuguese Bragas for the past three generations. The dispute began when Pete Braga shot Tom's grandfather in an argument over a paycheck. It worsened when Tom's father was suspected of the severe beating of Pete's son Victor in an act of revenge. But since Tom himself has never been a part of the feud, he takes the case and begins the investigation.

The prime suspect in Pete's murder is his beautiful young nurse who claims to have returned from getting firewood to discover the body. Though the other members of the team doubt her innocence, Tom senses she's telling the truth - whether this is an experienced cop's instinct talking or Tom's unruly libido acting up is another issue altogether. As the investigation continues, Tom and his team discover the expansive extent of Pete's business empire. They uncover his ruthless and greedy ways of doing business, his insatiable acquisitive nature, his penchant for prostitutes, his involvement in a multi-million dollar Indian casino, and the heated and bad-tempered ways with which he alienated friends and family alike.

The police have to wade through the victim's countless enemies and a myriad of motives. In the midst of all this, Tom also has to go up in front of the IAD to be interrogated about a cop turned bad, with whom Tom had worked closely a few years back. In Cold Pursuit, T. Jefferson Parker has created a very competent and greatly interesting police procedural. Tom McMichael is believable, both as a cop and as a human being. The working of his quick and methodical brain, where mostly logic and sometimes instinct takes precedence, is demonstrated page after page. Also revealed is his pain over his recent divorce, his anguish at being separated from his young son, his pity for his drunken sot of a father, his split feelings about the bitter feud and his growing attraction towards a prime murder suspect.

Parker has populated this slick and fast-moving plot with many plausible secondary characters, some of them fascinating on their own. The writing is crisp even while detailing the complex investigative process, involving both legwork and CSI lab work. The mystery is very difficult to solve and the dramatic ending comes as a big and utter surprise. There is also some action and enough titillating elements to spike the interests of a range of readers. To sum up, Cold Pursuit is one complex and compelling mystery, which T. Jefferson Parker makes completely convincing.
Note: This novel will be released in April 2003.

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