Reviewed by Rima Walker
It’s always fun to read Robert Parker-his snappy dialogue, laconic but clever heroes and sidekicks, bright women, interesting plots, and underlying story lines make it worth the reader’s while to start with the first book in a series and read through to the present. I got hung up on Spenser the moment I found him in The Godwulf Manuscript and gulped down 34 more of Spenser’s and Hawk’s adventures in ensuing books of the series. I ignored his girlfriend Susan as best I could and prayed they’d break up so I could take her place. No such luck.
Spenser fans are sorry to see him gone for now, but Jesse Stone has sort of moved into the gap, this being the seventh adventure of the Paradise, Massachusetts police chief, who to some extent has Spenserian world views, values, and attitudes. Stone is “autonomous” with a “silent center” but with “scruples”. Sound familiar? Some of the verve of the language is gone, along with much of the clever repartee, but the plot is intricate, fast moving and introduces the kind of plot not too often found in procedural novels. Stone must work with an old adversary, an Apache (possibly) named Crow, who comes to town to find a young girl and return her to her gangster father in Florida. And thank goodness for Crow who clearly is a version of Hawk: he’s “complete. . .interior, independent….and reeks of power.” He’s also “absolutely gorgeous” according to Molly Crane, a police officer working with Stone. A bit of foreshadowing? You’ll find out.
The plot goes like this: Crow returns to Paradise after ten years when he was last seen escaping with a ton of stolen money and leaving Stone with no way to prove that he is a killer. His job is not only to locate the gangster’s daughter Amber, but also to kill her mother. Crow, who lives up to his own moral code (just as Stone, Hawk, and Spenser do), won’t do the killing, but he does want to find Amber who has become mixed up with a Latino gang leader. Crow has no trouble killing bad guys although he’s pretty much a bad guy himself. In Crow’s search for Amber, the characters of the Stone novels all get involved: Jenn (Stone’s reporter-ex-wife), who is after the story and who still loves Stone, who loves her back; Molly Crane, who has a great appreciation for the bad boy Crow; Suitcase, another police officer, who gets involved in an affair with a woman who is part of a subplot to the novel. But the emphasis is on Stone and Crow. Can Stone put aside his desire to put Crow the killer behind bars and join him in saving Amber from her father and from her Latino boyfriend who cares more for money than for Amber? Can he find a way to rescue Amber from her own bad ways, brought on by neglect and lack of parental love? Can he find a way to get Jenn back although they seem doomed to love each other without finding a way to live together?
If you are like me and can devour this chocolate bar of a book in at most two days, you’ll find all of it coming together quickly at the end. I read it in just one day, as I do all the Parker books, for the excitement they offer that leaves me satisfied until the next one arrives. Kind of like Ed McBain, you know? ~