Cold Pursuitby T. Jefferson Parker
Homicide cop Tom McMichael is on the rotation when Pete Braga, an 84-year-old city patriarch, businessman and former mayor is found by the beautiful young nurse hired to watch after him—bludgeoned to death. The Irish McMichaels and Portuguese Bragas share a violent history: as a commercial tuna clipper captain way back in 1952 Pete Braga shot dead a young crewman who believed he was owed a paycheck. That man was Franklin McMichael, Tom's grandfather. Pete Braga's son, Victor, who was then thirteen, is then severely beaten behind a waterfront bar one night. Most people believe that Franklin's son—Tom's father—did it in revenge. Victor survives the attack, but he's mentally stunted. Though his body matured, his mind remains that of a ten-year-old. The alleged attacker—Gabriel—has denied it for his whole dissolute, wasted, booze-filled life. <br><br>The nurse looks good as a suspect. She claims to have gone out for firewood that night, then returned from the store to find Pete dead. She's covered with blood and not forthcoming with McMichael and his partner, Hector Paz. The investigation expands to Pete's business acquaintances, his family, the Catholic diocese in San Diego, a multi-million-dollar Indian casino manager, an old cop buddy, a prostitute, and some expanding incongruities between the nurse's story and the evidence that they continue to find. It's a tale of blood feuds, secret passions and long-held resentment that will have readers spellbound until the final shocking pages.
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By T. Jefferson Parker
Thorndike PressCopyright © 2003 T. Jefferson Parker
All right reserved.
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?"
"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.
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Meet the Author
T. Jefferson Parker is the award-winning author of nine previous novels, including Silent Joe, The Blue Hour, and Red Lightwhich was nominated for an Edgar Award for best novel. He lives in Fallbrook, California.
- Fallbrook, California
- Date of Birth:
- December 26, 1953
- Place of Birth:
- Los Angeles, California
- B.A. in English, University of California-Irvine, 1976
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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!!
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!
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
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.
And I've read a lot of mediocre books this summer. This one is great. Don't miss it.
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. 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. 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. Frederick A. Babb
Lots of twists and turns. Very enjoyable read. Mystery and romance. Who could ask for anything more?
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