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Night Passage Hardcover – September 22, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

Fans often feel uneasy when the creator of a popular character ventures into new turf, and sometimes their trepidation is justified. But readers of Robert B. Parker's immensely popular Spenser series can breathe a sigh of relief: while Night Passage doesn't feature Spenser, his usual gang of associates, or a Boston setting, it's vintage Parker--fast, witty, suspenseful, and engaging. Told in short, crisp chapters, it's the story of Jesse Stone, a 34-year-old ex-cop who just lost his L.A. policeman's job and his marriage due to a drinking problem. The book opens as Stone leaves California for his new job as chief of police in the picturesque town of Paradise, Massachusetts.

But Paradise isn't as placid as it seems--in fact, it's a festering mass of petty corruption, right-wing militia, sexual scandal, and bad guys who favor strong-arm tactics. Night Passage boasts a delicious, classic setup: the lone lawman, new in town, must make his stand to clean the place up. Stone has been picked for the job because the town fathers figured he'd be weak and malleable; as he gradually pulls himself together, it turns out they have a surprise in store. Stone's qualities may remind you of Spenser's--he's taciturn, fearless, good-looking, and compassionate--and in the end the plot's pleasing complexities get resolved a bit simply. But Robert B. Parker is in fine form in Night Passage, with his smart-aleck wit under control and his prose at its economical best. Spenser fans and Parker neophytes alike will find plenty to enjoy here. And the setting is, after all, not far from Boston--dare we hope for a Spenser-Stone meeting in future books?

From Library Journal

The creator of the famed Spenser novels introduces a new detective series.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 322 pages
  • Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons; 1st edition (September 22, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399143041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399143045
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (285 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #535,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) has long been acknowledged as the dean of American crime fiction. His novel featuring the wise-cracking, street-smart Boston private-eye Spenser earned him a devoted following and reams of critical acclaim, typified by R.W.B. Lewis' comment, "We are witnessing one of the great series in the history of the American detective story" (The New York Times Book Review). In June and October of 2005, Parker had national bestsellers with APPALOOSA and SCHOOL DAYS, and continued his winning streak in February of 2006 with his latest Jesse Stone novel, SEA CHANGE.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Parker attended Colby College in Maine, served with the Army in Korea, and then completed a Ph.D. in English at Boston University. He married his wife Joan in 1956; they raised two sons, David and Daniel. Together the Parkers founded Pearl Productions, a Boston-based independent film company named after their short-haired pointer, Pearl, who has also been featured in many of Parker's novels.

Parker began writing his Spenser novels in 1971 while teaching at Boston's Northeastern University. Little did he suspect then that his witty, literate prose and psychological insights would make him keeper-of-the-flame of America's rich tradition of detective fiction. Parker's fictional Spenser inspired the ABC-TV series Spenser: For Hire. In February 2005, CBS-TV broadcast its highly-rated adaptation of the Jesse Stone novel Stone Cold, which featured Tom Selleck in the lead role as Parker's small-town police chief. The second CBS movie, Night Passage, also scored high ratings, and the third, Death in Paradise, aired on April 30, 2006.

Parker was named Grand Master of the 2002 Edgar Awards by the Mystery Writers of America, an honor shared with earlier masters such as Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen.

Parker died on January 19, 2010, at the age of 77.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Shea HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 22, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Night Passage is the first in Robert B Parker's "Jesse Stone" series, set in the mythical town of Paradise, up near Lynne, Massachusetts. Jesse conveniently runs into just about every major character from the Spenser for Hire series during his adventures over the years.

In essence, Parker is getting back to his roots. At this point in time Spenser is getting far too old to keep detecting, a point that many, many readers have made with a grin. Stone is picking up the mantle, and returning to the hard liquor, hard edged attitude that Spenser had back when he was a pup.

You start with Jesse Stone, aged 34, born in Tucson Arizona, staring at the Santa Monica ocean and pondering how he quit the LAPD. Divorced, 6', 175 pounds, he was a point guard in high school and almost went professional in baseball, but for a career-ending injury. Oh yes, he was in the marines, too.

So he drives his Explorer cross country to the tiny town of Paradise, Massachusetts. The drive takes quite a bit of book to tell. When he gets there, to be their new police chief, he finds a mess. White Supremacists, money laundering, lots of sex. And all through it, you get soap opera scenes of Jesse and his ex-wife Jenn who can't quite live together but can't quite leave each other either.

The writing is classic Spenser style, although in 3rd person. You get both the good and the bad in that sense. I enjoy the wit and the quick paced action, but I really don't like the soap-opera long drawn out scenes where you have to hear for the 800th time how a couple loves each other but has issues with living together.

Also, a number of the actions of the characters make little sense, and seem like they were thrown in for plot reasons. The ending is very rushed and forced. I really like the idea of a new character to keep this universe going, but I hope that by trying to write three series at once, Parker isn't spreading himself a little thin.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
IN one of his boldest moves of late, Robert Parker introduces us to a new and highly likeable character in Chief Jesse Stone. Fresh from a dead-end job and a serious drinking problem in Los Angeles, Jesse Stone comes to a quaint little town known as Paradise to take over the responsibilities of police chief. Little does he realize what mayhem lurks just below the surface of this seemingly innocent little harbour town. In a plot full of strange characters and even stranger plot twists, Parker unravels another classic suspense mystery novel. If you like Spenser... you'll LOVE Stone!! Just like he handles the "seedy element" in Paradise, Jesse Stone will catch up to you one way or another by the end of the book. I highly recommend it to all Spenser fans that want to welcome Parker's newest hero with open arms ( and minds!).
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love Spenser (even 'Spenser for Hire'). His strength, indomitability, intelligence, wit and integrity are in short supply in this world, and a well written story (and Parker CAN write) that showcases these character traits makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over.
Stone is smart and competent, and his heart is in the right place. But he's entirely without humor, alone (no Hawk for backup and witty repartee), and spends all of his non-working time feeling sorry for himself because of his recent divorce. And there's no worthy protagonist! Only a couple of spineless, loony bozos. (Vinnie Morris, a frequent and interesting Spenser opponent is here in a very minor role, but as I recall he and Stone never meet.)
There is one constant in this comparison of the two. Stone's ex-wife is also sans any worthwhile qualities (Stone loves her primarily because she's 'quirky'). Susan, Spenser's main squeeze is similarly unendowed, but redeemed herself somewhat in later books. So, as is the wont of such heroes, both Stone and Spenser are true-blue to their self-absorbed partners.
Overall, the story is just OK. Stone's character is just OK. Parker's narrative talents as usual are terrific. But what is missing is our hero's frequent manipulation of the characters and the system to provide an unexpected ending that matches his unusual sense of justice and unity. These conclusions may not at first satisfy the reader, but after some thought can be appreciated nonetheless.
For those who would rate Parker's talents having read only 'Night Passage', don't! Read Spenser. Some of my favorites (in no particular order): 'Early Autumn', 'Small Vices', 'Ceremony', 'Paper Doll', 'Valediction', 'Looking for Rachel Wallace', 'Pastime'.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Burnett on February 18, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It is usually not a good sign when a series author decides to branch out to a new series; it usually means that the author himself has become bored with his creation and wishes to stretch his writing muscles a bit with something new. At best, this gives the faithful reader a new reason to enjoy his favorite author. At worst, the previous creation becomes a sort of exercise in frustration as the writer focuses his attention on his new baby.
In Robert B. Parker's case, we get the latter. Parker had already registered his continued contempt for his first creation, Spenser, by allowing the stories to get maudlin and sloppy, the margins to get wider and wider, and by publishing two installments of new Philip Marlowe adventures, as well as creating a new series starring a female private eye named Sunny Randall. To add insult to injury, here are we are now with "Night Passage", a fourth series concerning an L.A. cop named Jesse Stone transplanted to Paradise, Massachusetts, a bucolic little town on the Atlantic Ocean.
Jesse, plagued by drink and a wishy-washy ex-wife, sets out to remake himself as Chief of Policein a town where no one knows his name. But things get confusing when the department cat is murdered, followed by the killing of the previous chief of police and finally, a young, unwed mother. Jesse is, underneath it all, a good cop, so he is able to pull himself together, solve the crimes and have casual sex with a couple of ladies, thereby working on his abandonment issues.
Parker seems intent on making Stone as different from Spenser as possible, but the differences are superficial. Where Spenser is a hulking ex-boxer, Stone is slight.
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