Many thrillers necessitate a suspension of disbelief. We don’t expect multidimensional characters or deep psychological studies in our thrillers: we turn pages fueled by excitement and the desire to find out how it all turns out. In The Jaguar, T. Jefferson Parker’s fifth Charlie Hood thriller, it is necessary to suspend many levels of disbelief. Parker piles on the implausibility, but keeps the action-packed story flowing so swiftly there is little time to question.
The plot concerns the efforts of Bradley Smith, a corrupt California Deputy Sheriff in the pay of a Mexican drug cartel, to rescue his wife, Erin, a famous American singer, who has been kidnapped by a rival cartel demanding a million dollar ransom. Erin is held deep in the Yucatán jungle in a castle which everyone seems to know about but that no one can find. She spends her time composing narcocorrido drug crime ballads about the cartel leader Benjamin Armenta and hiding from his evil son, who wants to skin her alive.
Charlie, who is searching for Erin separately from her husband Bradley, is tasked with delivering Erin’s ransom money while overcoming corrupt police officials, a hurricane, a flood, and hungry alligators (among other perils). His adventures are pulse racing, but, as with other recent installments in the Hood series, he’s but one player in a much larger cast. In addition to Erin and Bradley, and psycho Mexican crime lords, readers can look forward to the appearance of Hood’s colorful nemesis, Mike Finnegan (who probably is the Devil incarnate), and Mike’s girlfriend (who is also at the secret jungle castle as the mistress of the cartel chief).
It’s a story that is wildly, and unapologetically, larger than life, pumped-up with action and machismo to match.