Cold Pursuit

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"Homicide cop Tom McMichael is on the rotation when an 84-year-old city patriarch named Pete Braga is found bludgeoned to death. Not good news, especially since the Irish McMichaels and the Portuguese Bragas share a violent family history dating back three generations. Years ago Braga shot McMichael's grandfather in a dispute over a paycheck; soon thereafter Braga's son was severely beaten behind a waterfront bar - legend has it that it was an act of revenge by McMichael's father." McMichael must put aside the old family blood feud and find the
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Cold Pursuit

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"Homicide cop Tom McMichael is on the rotation when an 84-year-old city patriarch named Pete Braga is found bludgeoned to death. Not good news, especially since the Irish McMichaels and the Portuguese Bragas share a violent family history dating back three generations. Years ago Braga shot McMichael's grandfather in a dispute over a paycheck; soon thereafter Braga's son was severely beaten behind a waterfront bar - legend has it that it was an act of revenge by McMichael's father." McMichael must put aside the old family blood feud and find the truth about Pete Braga's death. Braga's beautiful nurse is a suspect. She claims - conveniently - to have stepped out for firewood at the time of the murder, but key evidence suggests otherwise. The investigation soon expands to include Braga's business, his family, the Catholic diocese, a multimillion-dollar Indian casino, a prostitute, a cop, and, of course, the McMichael family.
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Editorial Reviews

Sue Grafton
I rank the crime novels of T. Jefferson Parker right up there with the best.
The Washington Post
If you love the classic crime story, as it has evolved from, say, Raymond Chandler to John D. MacDonald to Michael Connelly, then don't miss Jefferson Parker's Cold Pursuit -- because this is about as good as it gets. — Patrick Anderson
The Los Angeles Times
The writing is crisp, the plot unfolds with increasing urgency, even blunders pay off, and it all works out in the end. You can't ask for more. — Eugen Weber
Publishers Weekly
Parker, whose Silent Joe won an Edgar in 2001, can turn his hand to many genres: this one is a thriller with elements of family feud, and with a setting-San Diego in an unusually rainy winter-that is wonderfully moody. Homicide cop Tom McMichael is called in on the murder of wealthy old Pete Braga, a legendary local character who was once a tuna fisherman and now moves in the city's top financial circles. The problem is that his Portuguese family and McMichael's Irish one have a rivalry going back two generations. The details of that past, and the picture that emerges of two feisty old men locked into a bitter battle, are the brightest part of the book. The actual plot is more conventional: Braga's attractive nurse is an obvious suspect, so it is unwise for Tom to fall for her. Was the patriarch's killing related to local politics, or perhaps to his changed will? There are numerous red herrings-including a lurid subplot about a crooked cop and a very surprising commodity being smuggled across the border from Mexico-before the violent, rather improbable denouement. It's not unusual for a thriller to begin much better than it ends, but the more eloquent passages of Cold Pursuit make the routine ones doubly disappointing. (Apr. 2) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
San Diego homicide detective Tom McMichael heads up the investigation into the murder of 84-year-old Pete Braga, ex-mayor, influential businessman, millionaire-and the man who shot his grandfather years before. That death began a family feud between the Portuguese Bragas and the Irish McMichaels that has lasted to the present. At the crime scene, the detectives find Braga's bloodstained nurse, who tried to perform CPR when she discovered her charge's bludgeoned body; she becomes the first suspect. Then they discover that the wealthy man was attempting to change his will, but his law firm had lost the letters expressing his wishes. Add to that a cop gone wrong but with business ties to the Braga automobile dealership, and the murder takes on new significance. The story neatly weaves the current case with the past, giving McMichael a great mystery to solve and, in turn, the reader a terrific time following clues. Parker, whose Silent Joe won the 2002 Edgar Award for Best Novel, writes complex mysteries peopled with finely developed characters. For most fiction collections.-Jo Ann Vicarel, Cleveland Hts.-University Hts. P.L., OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
You could make a case that beginning in 1985, with Laguna Heat, Parker has produced a ten-novel skein unsurpassed, perhaps unmatched, by any other contemporary writer of crime fiction. Here, he's at the top of his game with the tale of lonely, near-reclusive Detective Sergeant Tom MacMichael of San Diego Homicide, who gets a call one night that turns his life around. It's from his lieutenant, telling him that Pete Braga's been murdered and MacMichael is to head the investigation. Rich, powerful Braga was a magnet for love and hate who also happened to be the rumored killer of MacMichael's grandfather, a shooting still shrouded in mystery-some say self-defense, some say not. At any rate, MacMichael is a cop with a bedrock belief in objectivity as the sine qua non of the professional investigator. Where the evidence leads MacMichael will follow, he tells himself confidently as he starts sorting through a small army with reason to love and/or hate the tempestuous Braga. Among those he finds, Sally Rainwater-character in her face, secrets in her eyes-and suddenly MacMichael is tested in a way he never expected to be. Because where the evidence leads, of course, is in her direction, and how do you stay objective when you've fallen desperately in love? Though Silent Joe won an Edgar in 2001, Parker's never got the respect he deserves. Maybe this engrossing tale of a flawed hero redeemed by suffering-the kind of theme he's always handled so well (Black Water, 2002, etc.)-will bring him a wider audience. Agent: Robert Gottlieb/Trident Media
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060593278
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

T. Jefferson Parker

T. Jefferson Parker is the award-winning author of nine previous novels, including Silent Joe, The Blue Hour, and Red Light—which was nominated for an Edgar Award for best novel. He lives in Fallbrook, California.


One of the best loved crime writers of our time, T. Jefferson Parker was born in Los Angeles and has lived all of his life in Southern California. The poster boy for Orange County, he enjoyed an almost idyllic childhood bodysurfing, playing in Little League, and enjoying family outings with his parents and siblings. He was educated in public schools in Orange County and received his bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Irvine, in 1976. (He was honored in 1992 as the University's Distinguished Alumnus.)

His writing career began in 1978 as a cub reporter on the weekly newspaper, The Newport Ensign. After covering crime, city hall, and local culture for the Ensign, Parker moved on to the Daily Pilot newspaper, where he won three Orange County Press Club awards for his articles. During this time, he filed away information he would later use to develop characters and plot points for his novels.

Published in 1985, Parker's first book, Laguna Heat, was written in whatever spare time he could find during his stint as a reporter. The book received rave reviews and was made into an HBO movie starring Harry Hamlin, Jason Robards and Rip Torn.

Since that auspicious beginning, Parker has made a name for himself with smart, savvy bestsellers dealing with crime, life, and death in sunny Southern California. In 2001, he hit the jackpot with Silent Joe, a bittersweet thriller that won the Mystery Writers of America's coveted Edgar Award for Best Novel. In 2004, he repeated the feat with Califoria Girl, making him one of only two writers (the other is James Lee Burke) ever to have won two Best Novel Edgars. Among other honors and accolades, Parker has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller and the Southern California Booksellers Award for Best Novel of the Year. His books continue to score big on the national bestseller lists.

Good To Know

The "T" in Parker's name doesn't really stand for anything. His mother once told him she thought it would look good on the presidential letterhead!

In an interview with, Parker explained how his definition of noir has altered: "It seems to me that since 9/11 our appetites for darkness have shrunk a little. Mine have. I know that as a writer I've tried to bring more breadth and humanity to my stories. I think when all is said and done, a noir attitude is fine, but it's still just an attitude, a pose.

Parker's first wife, Catherine, died of a brain tumor at a very young age. He has since remarried happily.

In an interview with Harlan Coben, Parker was asked about the state of crime writing, i.e., what's wrong and what's right with it. "I think the Achilles heel of mystery/crime writing is character," he responded. "You have to have good characters—and sometimes I think mystery writers rely to heavily on plot and velocity of plot at the expense of characters."

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    1. Hometown:
      Fallbrook, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 26, 1953
    2. Place of Birth:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, University of California-Irvine, 1976
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Cold Pursuit

By T. Jefferson Parker

Thorndike Press

Copyright © 2003 T. Jefferson Parker
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0754093255

Chapter One

That night the wind came hard off the Pacific, an El Nino event that would blow three inches of rain onto the roofs of San Diego. It was the first big storm of the season, early January and overdue. Palm fronds lifted with a plastic hiss and slapped against the windows of McMichael's apartment. The digitized chirp of his phone sounded ridiculous against the steady wind outside.

"Somebody killed Pete Braga about an hour ago," said McMichael's lieutenant. "You're up on the wheel of fortune, but I'll give it to Team Two if you want."

It was a question McMichael could think about for a long time but didn't.

"We'll take it."

"Somebody bludgeoned Pete in his house, Tommy," said the lieutenant. "Blood and brains all over the place. Patrol's holding the cleaning lady or some such thing."

It took McMichael a moment to transfer Pete Braga from the roster of the living to the ranks of the dead. Murder was always a surprise. Especially if it was someone like Pete, who seemed like he'd live forever.

"We'll take it," he said again.

A brief pause. "You're sure about this, Tom?"

"I'm sure."

"The Irish are a stubborn people. About as stubborn as the Portuguese. Okay, then. Pete Braga's yours."

Eighty-something years old, thought McMichael. It wouldn't take a gladiator to crush the old man's skull. A local badass hero, done in by the cleaning lady.

"I'll make the calls, Tommy. You get moving. Need the address?"

"I know it."

Pete Braga's estate was on the bay side of Point Loma, right down on the water. Three levels of weathered redwood and plate glass descended to the sand. The glass caught the wind-fractured lights of Shelter Island and the city across the bay.

The driveway gate was open and McMichael could see three San Diego PD patrol cars, two slick-back Fords, a paramedic truck and a red Beetle parked in the sweeping brick drive. A small crowd had gathered at the crime scene tape that ran across the driveway. They looked like carolers between songs, McMichael thought, uncertain and self-conscious, coats and scarves and hair riled by the wind. He lowered a window and badged a uniform. The officer untied one end of the tape and it shot from his hand toward the water.

McMichael followed the walkway to the front door. The path was lined with bronze light fixtures shaped like leaping tuna. Behind the lights a stand of Norfolk Island pines swayed against a faint moon wrapped in clouds.

At the front door an officer T. Sterling handed McMichael an entry log. Before looking at it McMichael studied the outside doorknob, the jamb and frame.

"Shoot," he said, scanning down the log.

"We were first on scene, sir," said the officer. "Slow night, maybe because of the storm coming in. Then the watch commander dropped a possible one-eightyseven on us. We got here in seven minutes. The nurse who made the nine-one-one call let us in. I noticed substantial amounts of blood on her hands, face and clothing. The old man was in his trophy room, or whatever you'd call it, by the fireplace. His head was caved in. The nurse was upset and not really cooperative, so Traynor took her into the dining room. I ran a warrants check on her and she came back clean."

McMichael signed the log and looked into T. Sterling's eager gray eyes.

"A nurse, not a cleaning lady."

"That's what she said."

McMichael gave the log back to Sterling. "The blood on her clothes, was it smears or spatters?"

"I'm not sure. Mostly smears, I believe."

"What about her face?"

"I think smears too."

"You didn't let her wash up, did you?"

"I don't think Traynor was going to."

Another officer led the detective to the scene. The trophy room was down a long hallway, then to the right. McMichael felt the coldness of the house in his shins. The hall was wide and well lit by recessed ceiling lights. There were paintings hung museum style, with individual viewing lights fastened above the frames: all ocean scenes -- ships and waves in violent moments, the grandeur of catastrophe at sea. One light was trained on nothing, just blank wall with a hanger still nailed to the plaster.

He stepped down into the trophy room, smelling blood and feces and cigar smoke. Two small bundles of firewood lay at his feet. Above him was a cavernous cross-beam ceiling with heavy-duty shop lamps hung in two rows of six. The lamps washed the room in a strong incandescent glow.

McMichael pulled the little tape recorder from the pocket of his bomber's jacket, checked the tape and turned it on. He spoke into it, setting the time and date and location, then narrating what he saw.

Ahead of him was a wall of glass facing the water and the city. Beyond the glass, windblown leaves swirled through the deck lights and a quick blizzard of sand rose toward San Diego Bay. A navy destroyer sat moored to the east, irrationally large amidst the tenders and pleasure craft.

To McMichael's right was a cedar-paneled wall festooned with Pacific trophy fish -- tuna, yellowtail, dorado, swordfish, sailfish and sharks. In the lower right corner of the wall hung some of the gear used to catch them -- rods, reels, gaffs and fighting belts.

His eye went to the two empty hangers, like he'd seen in the hallway. One amidst the fish, one in the gear.

The main attraction was a white shark that looked to be three times the length of a man. It was obscenely thick. Rows of teeth glistening, its huge head swung outward in the posture of attack. McMichael noted that the taxidermist had gotten the eyes right, rolled back into the head for protection. He remembered that Pete Braga had made TV and the papers with that one ... Continues...


Excerpted from Cold Pursuit by T. Jefferson Parker Copyright © 2003 by T. Jefferson Parker.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2012

    Good Read!!

    I had never read this author before. I really liked his story and would recommend this author to eveyone. I will definietly look for other book by this author. Happy Reading!!

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  • Posted January 31, 2011


    I thought I'd read all of T. Jeff's novels so imagine my delight when I realized I'd missed one. This book did not disappoint. I loved it and love Mr. Parker!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2007

    A reviewer

    I was open minded and looking forward to a great read based on the 5 star review of this book. The plot is so slow and filled with extraneous stuff that does nothing to move the story line along. You can skip entire pages and be no worse off. I didn't care about any of the characters, from the murdered Pete Braga to his impaired son Victor. The hero, McMichael, was dull and yes, I will use the word, boring. Rainwater is protrayed as a moronic female. The dialog between McMichael and his 7 year old son is so way off. No 7 year old speaks like that. I liked Hector and Reagan. If you like your novels with no action and little suspense, this might be for you. It's predictable and lackluster. You'll figure out the who done it instantly as there are no surprises here. Read it if you are trapped on a trans-Atlantic flight without anything else to read including the pretzel wrapper. Otherwise, there's too much great stuff out there to waste your time here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2005

    Best book I've read all summer

    And I've read a lot of mediocre books this summer. This one is great. Don't miss it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2005

    A suspenseful thriller worth reading

    Generations of hate come together in this book. Pete Braga killed Franklin McMichael dead in a claim of self-defense in the summer of 1952. The next generation carried on the tradition when Gabriel McMichael supposedly beat Pete¿s son, Victor, so severely that he suffered permanent brain damage, rendering him with the IQ of a ten-year old. The third generation was naïve to all this hatred when Thomas McMichael fell in love with Pete¿s granddaughter Patricia. The love of his life was driven away at a young age when Grandfather Pete refused to permit their love to blossom. While the McMichael family existed in near poverety, the Braga family thrived in power and money. <P> So now Thomas has a problem. The root of all his family¿s hatred, Pete Braga, has been found dead. He was murdered by someone at his home. Thomas has been assigned the case to find out who wanted the old man dead. Given his many enemies, the list of suspects is long. It doesn¿t help that the first suspect, Sally Rainwater¿Pete¿s personal nurse, becomes the object of Thomas¿ heart as the investigation unravels. <P> The story twists and turns through many leads and many unexpected plot points as Thomas McMichael is determined, despite his family¿s hatred of Pete, to find out who is behind the killing and why. Author T. Jefferson Parker does an excellent job in keeping the reader involved and interested in the story with his enthralling style. <P> Frederick A. Babb

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2003

    Great Read

    Lots of twists and turns. Very enjoyable read. Mystery and romance. Who could ask for anything more?

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    tour de force police procedural thriller

    In 1952 San Diego, a Braga killed a McMichael in what was called self-defense. A few months later Pete Braga¿s son Victor was beaten up so severely that he sustained brain damage. He would always have the mind of a ten-year-old. The rumor went around town that Gabriel McMichael beat up Braga¿s son but it was never proven. In the present San Diego Police Homicide Detective Tom McMichael is on duty when Pete Braga¿s body is found in his home, beaten to a bloody pulp. When he arrives on the scene, McMichael finds the nurse with blood on her face, clothes and shoes but she explains that she was trying to revive her client. Paintings and jewelry from the Braga home are found in the nurse¿s apartment but she has proof that he gave them to her as gifts. McMichael is forced to look at Braga¿s enemies, including those from his own family. In the course of his investigation he almost gets himself suspended for dating a suspect and then almost loses his life when the killer kidnaps him. COLD PURSUIT is a tour de force police procedural thriller that starts off fast and just keeps increasing in speed. Readers will love the protagonist, a loving father and a man who is willing to own up to his mistakes. It¿s fascinating watching Tom connect the dots in the investigation, so much so readers will ignore why he was not removed due to a conflict of interest as he uses professional police methods and intuition to crack the case. T. Jefferson Parker has once again proven he is a gifted writer who delivers a best seller. Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2003

    An Allnighter

    When I picked up this book I had no idea it would not let me walk away without finishing it. Had I known I would have waited till the weekend to read it. Parker does an amazing job of writing. He manages a tight plot, great characters and wonderful descriptive quality. Parts of this book are hanging in my head like phantoms. The book follows a detective working a homicede case. Sounds simple, but it's not. It is laced with bad blood between the cop's family and the victim's family. ANd the further into the investigation he gets, the murkier things are. Compounding his stress are problems dealing with being a newly divorced father and a ex partner who is under arrest and may be pushing the spotlight over to him. A great read, with an unrelenting pace. Jon Jordan

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    Posted September 11, 2011

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    Posted April 22, 2009

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    Posted August 2, 2011

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    Posted September 29, 2010

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