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    SILENT JOE by T. Jefferson Parker

    Hyperion, 2001

    Joe Trona works as a deputy sheriff and does odd jobs for his father. Odd jobs like planting bugs and driving at high speeds. When his father is killed, Joe is devastated--and swears to find justice somehow. His father's death is more complicated than it first appeared. Will Trona had made many enemies and there is no lack of suspects. Yet who would have motive, access to the killers, and knowledge of exactly where Will would be?

    T. Jefferson Parker (see other BooksForABuck reviews of novels by this author) has emerged as one of the new masters of the hardedged mystery (see also our reviews of RED LIGHT and BLUE HOUR. SILENT JOE raises him another notch. Joe is a wonderfully complex and motivated character. Burned by acid as a four year old child, Joe was adopted by Will and Mary Ann. He spent his life trying to be worthy of their love and feels responsible for his father's death. The acid attack left Joe brutally scarred and has affected his relationship with others, especially women.

    As he investigates, Joe learns that he won't be able to have everything. Will had been blackmailing some of the leaders of Orange County. Should he protect Will's memory at the price of the truth? A second mystery, the apparent kidnapping of Savannah, the daughter of one of the richest men in America, runs through the story, closely linked with Will's murder. Will had been on his way to pick up the girl after delivering her ransom when he was killed. Parker does a fine job integrating these two mysteries.

    Parker's characters seem real--motivated by real human emotions (like greed and fear, but also like love and respect). Joe knows that he can't have what he wants. He must decide on what he needs and do everything he can to stay alive long enough to achieve even this. Parker's strong writing makes you hope that he succeeds.

    SILENT JOE is an excellent and compelling novel. If you haven't discovered T. Jefferson Parker, you are in for a treat. If you have, you owe it to yourself to see this one.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 10/23/02

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