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Second in a Series: Death In Paradise
on December 20, 2003
Robert B. Parker is one of my guilty pleasures. Whether it is his long running Spenser series, or the two new series he has started featuring Sunny Randall or Jessie Stone, the books are all pretty much the same. Mr. Parker can be counted on to tell an interesting, relatively simplistic story where evil walks among us and will be struck down as fast as possible. Much like a great Steven Segal movie, the hero will do this almost single handily without a hair out of place and our hero is always a sure hit among the many ladies. When you don't want to have to think to follow along as a reader and you want a guaranteed escape from current reality, Mr. Parker is sure to come up with some enjoyable mind candy. This offering serves as yet another case in point.
Mr. Parker returns to the mean streets of small town life in Paradise, Massachusetts in his recent novel featuring Jesse Stone. Jesse is still the chief of Police and still torn by his love of drink as well as his love for his ex-wife, Jenn. Following up on his theme in Trouble In Paradise, the previous novel of the series, Jesse is still fighting the good fight. He wants Jenn back in the worst way, but is trying to stay strong in his resolve to allow her to find her own life and then decide if he still belongs. Their Wednesday night dates are still on and they remain open to seeing other partners. At the same time, he is still battling the idea that he is an alcoholic and that he will have to deal with it.
Both issues get pushed slightly backward as a body is discovered floating in the lake after a softball game. Jesse thinks he knows who it is and suspects that it is the body of a young teenage runaway. But her family won't acknowledge that she ever existed and due to the condition of the body, identification will take time.
As he and his small force of ten officers begin to work the case, a side story of domestic violence comes to his attention. Splitting his time between both cases becomes a full time effort as he tries to find one killer as well as preventing death in the other case. Jesse has his hands full and hardly breaks a sweat as he goes about his business working both cases.
Mr. Parker keeps up his long tradition of shallow characters, plenty of apparent action and almost continuous dialogue in this novel. At 294 pages in length, one would expect that this novel would not read as fast as it does. However, with so little narration and almost continuous dialogue consisting of very short sentences, it becomes an amazingly fast read. Mr. Parker won't change the world through his novels or how you look at it, but he can make you forget about it for a bit. Reminds one of a really good chocolate candy bar-great going down, but plenty of empty calories. Enjoy the break!