T. Jefferson Parker is a top mystery writer, but, in this narrative, chose to write a story about the trials and tribulations of returning veterans from Afghanistan. Given recent news stories about the problems at the Veterans Administration, it is a topic certainly worthy of being told and retold many times. However, he has plotted a different course: A story about two brothers and their relationship with their parents, who are trying to salvage an avocado farm that has been devastated by a massive fire that has destroyed much of the California town in which they live and work.
Patrick Norris served in a Marine group that suffered the worst casualties of the long Asian war. When he returned home, he dreamed of buying a boat and running a fishing charter service from San Diego Bay. Instead, he has to help his father resurrect the avocado farm. And he has to cope with his brother Ted, who can’t seem to do anything right.
The plight of returning veterans seems to be an afterthought as the novel moves ahead despite the author’s avowal that the subject was his intent when he set out to write it. Instead, we have what amounts to a love story interspersed with the hardship of farming as a way of life, a possibly dysfunctional family situation, and occasionally an exhibition of violence or PTSD. Given the high bar set by this author in past novels, I must admit that I found this one disappointing....Continua