This book is a Jesse Stone book, but it’s not a Robert B. Parker book. It’s written by one of the guys behind the Jesse Stone television movies, so it comes out of that milieu. It definitely has some television moments in it, but unlike the television excesses that Parker injected in his book after writing for the Spenser: For Hire television show, this book has some description and prose in it that are not dialog. But some moments in it are definitely televisionish in other ways, like when Jesse Stone breaches a room where an armed man might be by hitting the door and rolling into a sitting position with his gun up.
It’s also like Parker filtered through Ed McBain after a fashion: there are multiple, unrelated plot lines running through it. It takes place as Paradise is getting ready to go into the important summer tourism season. A ring of car thieves threatens the town, and then one of the thefts goes awry and leads to a homicide. A criminal from Stone’s past comes east from LA to get revenge. A girl holds her school principal at gunpoint and Jesse Stone helps intercede. The plots don’t all start or end at once; the car theft thing starts the book out, and ultimately gets a mob-assisted resolution midway through the book. The third plot starts out in the middle of the book and resolves over the last half. The main plot, the revenge one (although you might be forgiven thinking the plot that starts the book is the main plot), kinda weaves through a bit and then ends climactically in an episode that makes you go, “What?”
It’s meant to fill the book equivalent of two hours, and it does. It’s not as fast of a read as Parker’s work, but really, they’re two different animals. How different? Jesse Stone gets a cat. Not a shorthaired pointer. Not a bull terrier whom children say reminds them of Spuds McKenzie, a marketing icon from twenty-five years ago.
So it’s a so-so read. Not as good as the Ace Atkins Spenser novel, but Atkins is a novelist by trade. Still, this book is weightier than Parker’s last entries in the series, so it’s got that going on. But a direct comparison and contrastation does us no good.
Books mentioned in this review: