L.A. Deputy Sheriff Charlie Hood, last seen in Parker's L.A. Outlaws, returns for a second outing in this taut thriller. Charlie has transferred to the Antelope Valley, where he enjoys the monotony of patrolling miles of barren desert highway. The peace doesn't last for long: on a routine patrol, his partner, Terry Laws, is brutally murdered. Charlie's investigation suggests that Terry might have been part of a drug-smuggling ring-a discovery that endangers Charlie's own life. Veteran narrator David Colacci easily navigates his way through multiple characters; whether playing the low key sheriff, a grieving widow or high strung Mexican drug lord, he provides just the right inflection and accent without going over the top. This is a perfect follow-up to Parker's previous novel, and Colacci brings it to life with all its intrigue and suspense intact. A Dutton hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 1). (Mar.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.