T. Jefferson Parker and 'The Last Good Guy' Home in Fallbrook

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt
Last Good Guy
T. Jefferson Parker will be featured at
Writers Read at Fallbrook Library
on Tuesday 10 September,
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
(Photo by Bruce Jenkin)

T. Jefferson Parker settled in Fallbrook in 2000, and what better place for a New York Times bestselling author and three time Edgar Award winner to burrow into the quietude needed for the complex plots and deeply human characters he creates. In exchange for the space to write, Parker has honored the town and surrounding region by making them settings in his mystery thrillers ever since he landed here. Even one vaguely familiar Fallbrookian or another has made an occasional appearance.

“When I first came to Fallbrook, I saw a small town that seemed to me very representative of our country,” Parker said in a recent interview. “I saw small-town America here, in a good sense. That’s a wonderful thing for a writer, because if you can see the country in your town, it’s a microcosm. I could see things—everything from the barber pole to Little C's Tattoo—that I could see in a book I would write someday.”

And indeed he did. In his newest series, Parker has chosen Fallbrook as home base to protagonist Private Investigator Roland Ford. Readers were introduced to the former Marine, a clever and likable, but never-quite-happy hero in the first two books of the series, The Room of White Fire (Putnam, 2017) and Swift Vengeance (Putnam, 2018).

In the newly released third book, The Last Good Guy, Ford tackles a convoluted mystery of uncertain good guys and bad guys, a surfer-dude preacher, and a private security company that leaves the reader feeling less than secure, all in an effort to rescue a young teenager who may or may not want—or need—rescuing.

The novel is great fun to read and Parker at his best. He’ll be discussing The Last Good Guy at the September 10 Writers Read, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at Fallbrook Library, which also gets a mention in the novel.

“We have a handsome new library,” Ford considers while munching take-out from Thai Thai, a real restaurant on South Main.

Setting his fictions in recognizable locales and in the present—with plenty of references to current news and controversies—lends a compelling sense of reality and timeliness to Parker’s novels. While there can be a little risk to the strategy, Parker is thoughtful and cautious.

“I tread very carefully on the place that I live and I’m writing about,” Parker explained. “I’m very careful not to offend the innocent and not to denigrate the well-meaning—and to adhere to some truth about where I am. For example, I’ve been setting my books in the town I live in my whole life. From Laguna Heat on I always put in real business and street names ... so the story has verisimilitude, but I try never to put in a genuine place or business or group and cast aspersions on them—unless the aspersions are true, then I fictionalize it. I try to protect my town and use it as a setting at the same time.”

In The Last Good Guy, Parker has succeeded once again in protecting Fallbrook while sharing with his readers its quirky and appealing small-town character.

Writers Read at Fallbrook Library is located at 124 S. Mission. For more information about the Writers Read event, contact K-B at 760-522-1064 or kbgressitt@gmail.com.


A version of this article was originally published in The Village News.