"Nothing is colder than bad blood." This statement, quoted on the jacket of T. Jefferson Parker’s new book, Cold Pursuit, perfectly sums up the relationship between the McMichaels and the Bragas. It all started in the 1950s, when Franklin McMichael was killed by Pete Braga aboard Braga’s tuna boat. Days later, Braga’s thirteen-year-old son Victor was beaten into imbecility, allegedly by Franklin’s son Gabriel. Now, years later, Gabriel’s son and homicide detective Tom McMichael is still haunted by the decades-old feud. Ironically, he has just pulled the case of old Pete Braga’s murder. The eighty-four-year-old was clubbed to death in his own home and found by his caretaker, twenty-eight-year-old Sally Rainwater. When Tom begins his investigation, he is immediately drawn to Sally’s beauty and charisma. Unfortunately, she’s also the top suspect.
As Tom begins uncovering layer upon layer of Pete’s life, he falls for Sally Rainwater and discovers that Pete’s enemies number more than just the McMichaels. There’s Pete’s family, including Tom’s old flame Patricia, who stand to lose millions of dollars if Pete went through with his threats to cut them out of his will in favor of Sally Rainwater. There’s the Tunaboat Commission, angry with Pete for his support of the new airport. And then there’s the conspiracy that is eating up the police force—a young detective was found in a hotel room with three hundred thousand dollars in cash, drugs and two prostitutes. Was Pete mixed up in this mess as well?
The knotty mystery is nicely complemented by the character development of Tom McMichael. While he is a competent and even hard-nosed detective, he is also a dedicated family man who loves his son Johnny and a man with a heart who falls for a suspect. The writing is taut and moves along at a nice pace with plenty of action and twists to keep you turning the pages. Even the most seasoned mystery readers will find it difficult to predict the ending before the author chooses to reveal it.
With the easy-to-identify-with main character and excellent writing, Cold Pursuit is an enjoyable book from a master of crime fiction. Recommended to all lovers of police procedurals and murder mysteries.