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|A New Series, a New Character, the
Same High Quality
Robert B. Parker
| Jesse Stone is a cop on his way down.
Paradise, Massachusetts is a town that isn't quite the idyll it appears on
Robert B Parker is beginning a new series that bids fair to bring back that
snap and magic that i found in the mid-period Spenser books which has, sadly,
been somewhat less in evidence in the later ones.
Stone is an LA homicide detective who has hit a bad patch when he realises
that his wife is cheating on him, which leads to their divorce which results
in his determined attempts to crawl into a bottle of scotch.Which, in turn,
leads first to his long-time partner's reluctant refusal to continue working
with him and thence to his captain's offer: resign or be fired.
Paradise Massachusetts is one of those neat little Colonial towns full of
yuppies and Old Money types, and they just happen to need a Chief of Police...
and Jesse is Just What They Want, even if he WAS rather more than half-drunk
during his employment interview.
In many ways, this story is an "inverted" mystery story, since Parker all
along the way keeps us informed as to what the Bad Guys are up to, alternately
with showing us Jesse's growing conviction that Something Bad Is Going On.
Jesse is not the wise-cracking near-thug that Spenser is; he is a good
cop (once he discovers that he doesn't HAVE to get plowed every night and
remembers how to be one) with a dry understated sense of humour, and an
appreciation of the legal, political and practical aspects of his position.
Faced with a thuggish body-builder who laughs in his face while telling him
that the restraining order his ex-wife has against him is unenforceable,
Jesse nods, agrees, and then tells the thug to stay away from her anyway...
following up by proving with sudden and effective violence that even if the
Court's restraining order is unenforceable, HIS isn't...
The final confrontation is a bit unbelievable, but, then again, i found most
of the mechanics of the actual plot a bit strained and creaky (which explains
the 3-star rating given how much i enjoyed the book on first reading) --
but the plot isn't really important, in the last analysis; what IS important
is Jesse's beginnings on a journey that will being him back to being a complete
man and a complete cop, and THAT doesn't creak at all.
Experienced Parker readers, be warned: Jesse Stone, like Spenser with Susan
Silverman, carries a lot of emotional baggage and hang-ups regarding his
ex-wife (which she reciprocates). On the other hand, though his emotional
states are (or appear), much more intense than Spenser's, he mostly doesn't
wax quite so lugubrious and elaborately on about it, though this may be mostly
because he is presented third-person rather than as first-person narrator.
These minor caveats aside, this book (and, even more, the sequel, "Trouble
in Paradise") is highly recommended, especially for whose reading diet lacks
a little something lately.