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Storm Runners

Storm Runners

3.6 13
by T. Jefferson Parker

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Matt Stromsoe has come a long way since his wife and son were killed in an explosion meant for him. Wounded severly in both body and spirit, Stromsoe gave up the last thing that held any meaning for him—his job on the police force—and proceeded to



Matt Stromsoe has come a long way since his wife and son were killed in an explosion meant for him. Wounded severly in both body and spirit, Stromsoe gave up the last thing that held any meaning for him—his job on the police force—and proceeded to hit rock bottom, hard.

That was a lifetime ago, and finally the spiral of personal destruction and despair seems to have come to an end. The man responsible for the murders—Stromsoe's best friend from childhood and his wife's old lover—is behind bars and Stromsoe has put the past behind him, rescued from the abyss by a former colleague who offers him a job at his private security firm. Stromsoe's first assignment is to protect local television personality Frankie Hatfield from a stalker. But the further Stromsoe is drawn into this case, the more he finds that the net of intrigue is wide and ultimately leads back to the man who killed his family. As events conspire against him, Stromsoe learns that prison is no safeguard against revenge.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
This thriller from T. Jefferson Parker (The Fallen et al.) is not only fueled by an incredibly intricate and emotionally compelling story about a former police officer struggling to come to grips with the horrific murder of his wife and young son but also by powerfully moving allegory and imagery. With the diverse landscape of Southern California as a backdrop, water and all its symbolic incarnations (streams, rainfall, blood, teardrops, etc.) are at the center of this fascinating and unique tale of loss, vengeance, and ultimate rebirth.

After a bomb planted by a revenge-obsessed mobster inadvertently killed his wife and child, Matt Stromsoe quickly hit rock bottom. He quit his job, sold his house in Newport Beach, and retreated to the other side of the continent, where he promptly submerged himself in the bottle for two years. Eventually located by an old friend and owner of a SoCal security company, Stromsoe is offered a job working as a bodyguard for an attractive San Diego meteorologist who is being stalked, apparently by an overzealous fan.

Returning to Southern California, however, stirs up painful memories for the ex-cop -- and puts him squarely in the sights of the man who murdered his family, Mexican Mafia boss Mike Tavarez, who is serving a life sentence in Pelican Bay State Prison. Despite being behind bars, Tavarez is diligently plotting Stromsoe's demise -- and his first order of business is killing weatherwoman Frances Hatfield, who is perfecting a "moisture acceleration" system that could alter the landscape of Southern California forever…

As with 2006's The Fallen, Parker succeeds in creating a deeply flawed yet endearing protagonist whom readers will find themselves pulling for -- especially at the novel's wild and unanticipated conclusion. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Parker's 14th California crime novel opens with an unforgettable sentence: "Stromsoe was in high school when he met the boy who would someday murder his wife and son." The wife and son are both killed by a bomb meant for Matt Stromsoe, an Orange County detective on the trail of his former classmate, Mike Tavarez, now a leader of La Eme, the Mexican mafia. Tavarez goes to prison for life for the bombing, while the seriously injured Stromsoe, after a long recovery, takes a job guarding Frankie Leigh, a popular TV weather reporter in San Diego. Leigh has a stalker, who turns out to be employed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; the DWP wants Leigh-and her research on rainmaking-out of the picture. Parker (The Fallen) creates his usual interesting, multifaceted characters, though the plotting, which reconnects Tavarez with Stromsoe, is clunky. Still, the insights into La Eme and the science of rainmaking as well as the inevitable confrontation between the two principals show why Parker ranks as one of the top contemporary suspense writers. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In Southern California, as San Diego weather lady Frankie Hatfield puts it, "Rain is life!" Rain is also raw power in the land of avocadoes and sod farms. When Hatfield stumbles upon a family secret that allows her to control the rain, that discovery brings her unfathomable power with potentially deadly consequences. P.I. Matt Stromsoe is battling with his own demons—his wife and child have been murdered, and he's seeking redemption—and he willingly accepts an assignment to protect Hatfield. The case takes him from fragrant orange groves in the San Diego hills to the cold cement of Pelican Bay State Prison. Parker's trademark is the ability to create real characters—tangible, flawed, and heroic—and Stromsoe follows the tradition. Parker's latest success (following The Fallen) is an absorbing thriller that continues to nudge him nearer to the top of the genre. Recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ11/15/06.]
—Ken Bolton
Kirkus Reviews
Friendship betrayed, love lost and found and, of course, murder, in Parker's superbly wrought tenth (following The Fallen, 2006, etc.). Plus one of those wonderful opening sentences that can stand the hair up on the back of the neck: "Stromsoe was in high school when he met the boy who would someday murder his wife and son." The boy's name is Michael Tavarez-smart, talented, handsome and profoundly amoral, though that facet of his character is late-blooming. On the day they meet, they are both innocent, relatively uncomplicated freshmen-young Stromsoe eager to be the drum major of the Santa Ana High marching band, young Tavarez a would-be clarinetist. The two are drawn to each other. And then there's Hallie, the pretty, vibrant, restless girl. Maybe it's she who's the primary cause of the hostility that grows between them, but probably not. Probably, it was there from the beginning, a combustible waiting to be set off. But they follow separate paths-Stromsoe into the San Diego Sheriff's Department, where he becomes a clever, effective deputy; Tavarez into the Mexican Mafia, of which he becomes a powerful and ruthless chieftain. They keep careful track of each other, however, and as the years pass, what was once friendship transmogrifies into the kind of implacable enmity that must always be, in a certain sense, defining. Tavarez's lover is killed during a manhunt spearheaded by Stromsoe, who accepts the blame for that unintended consequence. When Tavarez extracts a brutal revenge, Stromsoe wants an eye for an eye. And so it goes between them-death the only conceivable separator. Parker shares with F. Scott Fitzgerald the viewpoint that "character is action," which is what makes thisauthor's fiction so intensely readable.
Entertainment Weekly
“Tasty tension...a psychologically sharp crime thriller.”
Los Angeles Times
“Taut well-oiled thriller.”
“Pure unadulterated excellence...Parker ups the ante and sets his own new standard with STORM RUNNERS, an unforgettable work.”
South Florida Sun Sentinel
“Intriguing...absorbing...STORM RUNNERS’ plot is complemented by the equally memorable characters.”
Curled Up with a Good Book
“Fast-paced and very difficult to put down.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Any reader will have a hard time putting this one down.”
Orlando Sentinel
“The action is nonstop as the plot zooms…The characters (are) memorable, the story unpredictable and the conclusion chilling.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harper Fiction Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.84(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Storm Runners

A Novel
By T. Parker

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 T. Parker
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060854232

Chapter One

Stromsoe was in high school when he met the boy who would someday murder his wife and son. The boy's name was Mike Tavarez. Tavarez was shy and curly-haired and he stared as Stromsoe lay the mace on the cafeteria table. A mace is a stylized baton brandished by a drum major, which is what Matt Stromsoe had decided to become. Tavarez held his rented clarinet, which he hoped to play in the same marching band that Stromsoe hoped to lead, and which had prompted this conversation.

"Sweet," said Tavarez. He had a dimple and fawn eyes. He could play all of the woodwinds, cornet and sax, and pretty much any percussion instrument. He had joined the marching band to meet girls. He was impressed by Stromsoe's bold decision to try out for drum major now, in only his freshman year. But this was 1980 in Southern California, where drum majoring had long ago slipped down the list of high school cool.

A little crowd of students had stopped to look at the mace. It was not quite five feet long, black-handled, with a chrome chain winding down its length. At one end was an eagle ornament and at the other a black rubber tip.

"How much did it cost?" asked Tavarez.

"Ninety-nine dollars," said Stromsoe. "It's the All American model, the best one they had."

"Waste of money," said a football player.

"May I help you?" asked Stromsoe, regarding him with a level gaze. Though he was only a freshman and a drum major hopeful, Stromsoe was big at fourteen and there was something incontrovertible about him. He had expressive blue eyes and a chubby, rosy-cheeked face that looked as if he would soon outgrow it.

"Whatever," said the football player.

"Then move along."

Tavarez looked from the athlete to the drum-major-in-making. The football player shrugged and shuffled off, a red-and-leather Santa Ana Saints varsity jacket over baggy sweatpants, and outsize athletic shoes with the laces gone. Tavarez thought the guy might take Stromsoe in a fight, but he had also seen Stromsoe's look—what the boys in Delhi F Troop called ojos de piedros—eyes of stone. Delhi F Troop turf included the Tavarez family's small stucco home on Flora Street, and though Tavarez avoided the gangs, he liked their solidarity and colorful language. Tavarez figured that the football player must have seen the look too.

That Saturday Matt Stromsoe won the drum major tryouts. He was the only candidate. But his natural sense of rhythm was good and his summer months of solitary practice paid off. He had been accepted for summer clinics at the venerable Smith Walbridge Drum Major Camp in Illinois, but had not been able to come up with the money. His parents had thought it all would pass.

On Friday, one day before Stromsoe won the job of drum major, Mike Tavarez nailed the third b-flat clarinet spot, easily outplaying the other chairs and doing his best to seem humble for the band instructor and other musicians. He played his pieces then spent most of the day quietly loitering around the music rooms, smiling at the female musicians but failing to catch an eye. He was slender and angelic but showed no force of personality.

Stromsoe watched those Friday tryouts, noting the cool satisfaction on Tavarez's face as he played an animated version of "When the Saints Go Marching In." The song was a Santa Ana High School staple. By the time Stromsoe retired his mace four years later he had heard the song, blaring behind him as he led the march, well over five hundred times.

He always liked the reckless joy of it. When his band was playing it aggressively it sounded like the whole happy melody was about to blow into chaos. Marching across the emerald grass of Santa Ana stadium on a warm fall night, his shako hat down low over his eyes and his eagle-headed All American mace flashing in the bright lights, Stromsoe had sometimes imagined the notes of the song bursting like fireworks into the night behind him.

The song was running through his mind twenty-one years later when the bomb went off.


Excerpted from Storm Runners by T. Parker Copyright © 2007 by T. 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.

Meet the Author

T. Jefferson Parker is the bestselling author of seventeen novels, including the Edgar® Award winners California Girl and Silent Joe. Alongside Dick Francis and James Lee Burke, he is one of only three writers who has won the Edgar® Award for Best Novel more than once. Parker lives with his family in Southern California.

Brief Biography

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

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Storm Runners 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TexasCowboy More than 1 year ago
Great story full of local detail. You will want to see this PI in another book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Samantha Hawkins-Uys More than 1 year ago
love it
lel55 More than 1 year ago
I just "found" this writer and have enjoyed several books of his already and plan to continue reading anything he writes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Parker is as dependable as anyone out there writing in this genre. Although Storm Runners is not his finest work, the characters are engaging and the plot moves along smoothly. It was a satisfying and enjoyable read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Parker's people are real and profound, as are his stories. The beauty of this story is it's simple, but well-executed plot. No superfluous convolutions here, unlike many of today's authors, who seem to think simplicity is a sin.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had the pleasure of reading an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher. This is a must have book for anyone who loves to read. I have found a new favorite author! I could actually see the scenes playing out as I read them. Very descriptive author. I highly recommend this book.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In California, Mike Tavarez, a top gun in the Mexican Mafia La Eme, sets off a bomb intended to kill Orange County detective Matt Stromsoe. Matt is severely injured, but his wife and son die in the blast. As he heals physically, the scars remain mentally although Tavarez, his former high school classmate, is convicted of murder and sentenced to spend life in prison.--------------------- Finally able to go back to work, Stromsoe accepts work guarding San Diego meteorologist Frankie Leigh from a stalker. Stromsoe soon realizes that the culprit was hired by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to prevent Leigh, whom they consider a major nuisance, from presenting her research into rainmaking.--------------- This is an exciting suspenseful thriller that has a great opening sentence that sets the stage for the two antagonists. The story line is fast-paced with the audience totally hooked with a High Noon anticipation from T. Jefferson Parker cleverly building up from that first line crescendo. The deep look at La Eme interwoven into the plot is fascinating and Mr. Parker provides a fabulous crime thriller with a touch of weather science to enhance the stormy confrontational expectations as everyone knows what weather is coming.------------- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
Matt Stromsoe and Mike Tavarez were the best of friends in high school. They marched in the band at the same time although Stromsoe was the Drum Major in their late years of school. Both boys loved Hallie, but Mike ended up winning her in marriage, which disappointed Matt. Mike was always into gangs in school and afterwards. Matt became a cop. Little did Matt know that his future included a marriage to Hallie after Tavarez had beaten and abused her during their married years. And, also unknown to Matt was that Tavarez would kill Hallie and their son Billie while intending to kill Matt because he had taken Hallie away from him. Matt survived the blast that occurred in their garage but with many injuries including a lost eye that was replaced by a glass eye. His physical injuries were terrible but his mental anguish was even greater. Tavarez had become a thief and armed robber and was eventually caught and sentenced to prison while Matt went on to work for a private investigation firm. Tavarez became a controller of Mexican Mafia and other gangs in prison and by communication devices he also was a boss of gangs outside of prison. His control dominated most of the gangs throughout the nation with the assistance of some corrupt prison guards. Matt finally felt more comfortable in talking with a woman reporter and told his story so all could know it. His story to the reporter started from his youth, his friendship with Tavares, the terrible torture given to Hallie, the marriage of Matt and Hallie, the birth of Billie, and the horrible death of Hallie and Billie. Dan Birch, the owner of the PI firm that hired Stromsoe, received a call from a weather reporter in San Diego requesting protection from a stalker she had been seen too many times near her and taking pictures of her. The reporter, Frankie Hatfield, had also taken pictures of the stalker and was fearful for what his intention might be. Birch placed Stromsoe on the case. He was sent to San Diego to meet with and gather the facts of the case, view the pictures, and ascertain what needed done to protect Frankie. Frankie and Matt hit it off very well and Matt knew he had to protect this woman to keep her safe and not hurt or killed like his wife and son had been. Frankie had a secret formula to make rain more intense that had been passed down from her grandfather but never written down. The formula was kept entirely in Frankie¿s memory. Matt accompanied Frankie from site to site as she moved her reporting locations to various areas and backgrounds. Almost at once Matt saw the stalker and gave chase. The first chase was unsuccessful but he didn¿t give up. His aching bones and joints gave him problems chasing but his desire to keep Frankie safe intensified his efforts. The Department of Water and Power for the area was led by some that had heard of Frankie and her grandfather before her and their experiments about rain. They desperately wanted that formulas so they could make mountains of money controlling the rainfall that eventually fed the city of Los Angeles with their water supply. Eventually the contacts were established between the DWP and Tavarez in prison where he could arrange the brutalizing or killing of anyone. He had money and made more every day and felt he could buy anyone. The desire for the power and control of the water supply and its use was strong and it seemed no obstacle was too much for those involved to dispose of anyone in the way. Stromsoe and Frankie, along with other law enforcement had their hands full trying to protect Frankie. Naturally the more Matt and Frankie saw each other the more interested they became in each other. This only enforced Matt¿s desire to save her from any harm. Storm Runners is an excellent story from which the reader can learn much about the infrastructure of water and power on the west coast of the United States. While fictional this story has the possibility of maki
Guest More than 1 year ago
The usually reliable Parker has written a potboiler reeking with cliches. Concocting a brew filled with a bruised PI, his strong, independant (and totally colorless) girlfriend, the brutal Mexican mafia (yawn) prison guard corruption (double yawn) and some ridiculous concept of rainmaking, Parker's novel reads like a hack TV movie of the week. I love Parker's books, and his dialogue is unrivaled, but this misfire lacks subtlety and, more importantly, believability.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Started out okay.Got progressively worse and I couldn't finish it.Thank goodness it was a pre advanced reader's copy and I didn't have to pay for it.. Don't bother.