With assured confidence and a master's economy of means, Robert B. Parker, who is best known for his Spenser series
, delivers one of his finest, most absorbing works yet. This third entry in the Jesse Stone series finds Stone--a former LAPD cop fired for drinking on the job--serving as chief of police in the town of Paradise, Massachusetts, and investigating the murder of a teenaged girl whose decomposed body turns up in the local lake. As he follows slender threads of evidence into an ugly world of exploited teens, several subplots crisscross, keeping things lively.
But Jesse's struggle with alcohol and his loving, troubled relationship with his ex-wife are at least as compelling as the external plot events. Parker doesn't usually give his characters much of an inner life, but here--in deftly compressed prose, much of it dialog--he paints an understated, believable portrait of a tough guy grappling with tough issues. This smooth-reading book goes down easy but packs a surprising wallop. --Nicholas H. Allison
From Publishers Weekly
Melancholy shadows this third, beautifully wrought Jesse Stone mystery; rarely if ever has Parker's fiction conveyed with such solemn intensity the challenge of living a good life in a world of sin. Jesse, erstwhile drunk and now sheriff of small-town Paradise, Mass., tackles two criminal and two personal mysteries here: the murder of a teenage girl found shot dead in a local lake, and the chronic beating of a local wife by her husband; the conundrum of Jesse's attraction to alcohol, and the mess of his love life, shaped by his dependence upon his estranged wife but encompassing a highly sexed affair with a school principal. The search for the identity and the killer of the girl brings Jesse, as such investigations traditionally do, into the realm of high society the prime suspect is a bestselling writer but also to the mean streets of Boston, where the sheriff parries with Gino Fish and Vinnie Morris (outlaws borrowed from the Spenser series). Dogged police work, a hot-to-trot wife, child prostitutes, the solace of baseball, hard-guy banter these and more classic elements inform and bolster this immensely satisfying tale. As usual with Parker these days, though, the book's ultimate pleasure lies in the words, suffused with a tough compassion won only through years of living, presented in prose whose impeccability speaks of decades of careful writing. (Oct.)Forecast: This is Parker's third outstanding novel of the year, after Potshot and Gunman's Rhapsody. To promote it, he plans a vigorous author tour. Expect high interest and sales.
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