Book: Silent Joe

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Silent Joe

Author: T. Jefferson Parker
Publisher: Hyperion Books

With the horrible remnants of a childhood tragedy forever visible across his otherwise handsome face, Joe Trona is scarred in more ways than one. Rescued from an orphanage by Will Trona, a charismatic Orange County politician who sensed his dark potential, Joe is swept into the maelstrom of power and intimidation that surrounds his adoptive father’s illustrious career. Serving as Will’s right-hand man, Joe is trained to protect and defend his father’s territory—but he can’t save the powerful man from his enemies. Will Trona is murdered, and Joe will stop at nothing to find out who did it.

Looking for clues as he sifts through the remains of his father’s life—his girlfriends, acquaintances, deals, and enemies—Joe comes to realize how many secrets Will Trona possessed, and how many people he had the power to harm. But two leads keep rising to the surface: a little girl who was kidnapped by her mentally disturbed brother, and two rival gangs who seem to have joined forces. As Joe deepens his investigation—and as he is forced to confront the painful events of his troubled childhood—these two seemingly disconnected threads will intersect. Just how and why form the crux of this intricate, intelligent mystery that satisfies the mind as well as the heart—and reveals yet again the impeccable detail, vivid characterization, and emotional complexity that make a T. Jefferson Parker novel impossible to resist.


Scarred for life by a brutal father, Joe Trona found a safe haven and a loving childhood in the home of the couple who adopted him. Now he spends his days as a deputy for the Orange County sheriff’s department and his nights as a driver and aide to Will Trona, the influential politician who rescued him from the Hillside Children’s Home. An expert in firearms and the martial arts, Joe has been backing Will up for a long time. Still, his skill isn’t enough to keep Will alive, and when his father is killed right in front of Joe’s eyes, the young deputy vows to avenge him. But first he must find out how the kidnapping of a tycoon’s daughter, a scam to line the pockets of Will Trona’s political enemies, the murder of two Guatemalan immigrants, the unholy activities of a charismatic minister who’s a close friend of the Trona family, and the strange alliance of two rival L.A. gangs are connected to Will’s death.

Every secret Joe uncovers leads deeper into his beloved father’s murky past and ultimately his own. But the reader stays right with this extraordinary man as he battles his demons and ultimately vanquishes them. Author T. Jefferson Parker (The Blue Hour, Red Light, Laguna Heat) is one of the best thriller writers working today. Fans of Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane—and Raymond Chandler, for that matter—will appreciate Parker’s ability to create a complex, fascinating, and fully realized hero whose inner reality is brilliantly revealed by his actions. Will Trona is an equally intriguing invention; while ultimately he is an enigma, we remain convinced that he is worthy of his son’s devotion. Silent Joe is a mindful, intelligent novel you can’t put down. It should break Parker out with the really big boys of mystery fiction, the million-sellers with the marquee names. In fact, he’s a much better writer than most of them, and unlike many, he never tells the same story twice. —Jane Adams

Barnes and Noble

Beginning in the mid-1980s, T. Jefferson Parker has been one America’s most intelligent, consistently reliable crime writers. His eight previous novels, which include the Edgar-nominated Red Light, constituted a singular achievement that is enhanced even more by the addition of Silent Joe.

Silent Joe bears a clear—and clearly acknowledged—resemblance to Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn. Parker’s hero, Joe Trona (a spiritual analogue of Lethem’s Lionel Essrog), is horribly scarred in infancy when his drunken

father pours battery acid on his face. Joe then spends five years in an orphanage before being adopted by Will and Maryann Trona. When we first encounter him, he is 24 years old and possesses an unshakable loyalty to his adoptive parents. By day, Joe works as a sheriff’s deputy. By night, he serves as his father’s bodyguard, accompanying Will—an Orange County supervisor—on his nocturnal rounds.

Early on, an enigmatic night mission goes spectacularly wrong when unidentified gunmen murder Will Trona. Wracked by guilt, Joe initiates an investigation into his father’s secret life and the surprising circumstances behind his death. His investigation encompasses a fraudulent kidnapping, several related deaths, numerous acts of blackmail, and the gradual revelation of a wide-ranging conspiracy involving a powerful cabal of Orange County business and political leaders. Along the way, Joe uncovers previously hidden aspects of his father’s character, fumbles his way into the first romantic relationship of his life, and discovers the truth about his

own mysterious origins.

Silent Joe is a remarkable novel that features a compelling and constantly evolving protagonist. Beneath his damaged exterior and well-mannered, carefully constructed persona, Joe Trona conceals a first-rate intellect and a highly developed sensibility, qualities that become increasingly evident as events unfold. Through Joe, Parker examines complex issues of love and loyalty, faith and family, ethics and personal identity, all within the context of a gripping, suspenseful narrative. Silent Joe is contemporary crime fiction at its absolute best. I urge you to give it a try. (Bill Sheehan)

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