“The Last Good Guy” by T Jefferson Parker is the third book in the “Roland Ford” series. Parker gives new readers a brief background, and all the familiar characters eventually make their appearances. The book is a first person narrative by Ford who talks openly to readers. He has a comfortable, conversational style as if close friends were sitting in front of a casita at Rancho de los Robles, enjoying the evening air, sharing thoughts, and reminiscing.
The story opens with homage to every great noir book.
“There’s this scene in the old detective movies where the investigator sits in his office, waiting for someone to come in and hire him. He’s a capable‑looking man. His face has character. His office is functionally furnished and poorly lit. Light and shadow. The top half of the office door is smoked glass and you can read his name in reverse.”
Thus, into Ford’s life walks Penelope Rideout; she needs help; she needs his help. Her sister has disappeared under questionable circumstances. Ford reassures her. “In my seven years as a PI I’ve never failed to find the person I was hired to find. Not that it’s easy locating someone who doesn’t want to be found. But it’s my specialty.”
Construction and grammar contribute to the atmosphere as Ford talks to himself and talks to readers sharing random thoughts, conclusions, questions that need to be answered, and ones that will never have answers. The investigation is documented with thorough descriptions and meticulous details as if in a report that readers are perusing after the end of the case. Readers get every observation, every clue, and every detail of Ford’s unconventional investigation strategies such as window washing, and under cover wasps.
The search becomes increasingly more complicated, and the lines between truth and lies become ever more blurred. “You’re beginning to exhaust me, Mrs. Rideout.” A river of unsettling facts run rampant, but the investigative process is careful and detailed because Ford constantly reminds himself of his mission, keeps himself focused, and stays on track; “Roland Ford digs to the bottom of things.”
Parker effectively uses geography and culture to create a sense of place for readers.
“Fallbrook is a small, fragrant, old‑fashioned town, a mom‑and‑pop place. We have characters. We have a peaceful side and a rough side. We are awash in classic cars, gleaming old vehicles sailing yachtlike down our country roads. We bill our town as the avocado capital of the world…More woodies than Teslas, more wheelchairs than Segways. It’s got street cred.”
Parker gives readers an understanding look into Ford’s existence. “And I felt my own aloneness, too — just a man in a small house beside a great sea, drawn by the simple need to earn a living.”
I was given a review copy of “The Last Good Guy” from T Jefferson Parker, Penguin Publishing Group, and G.P. Putnam’s Sons Publishing. I loved every page.
I cannot wait for the next book, “The Roland Ford Academy of Dance.”