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Split Image (Jesse Stone, No. 9) Hardcover – February 23, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 265 customer reviews
Book 9 of 13 in the A Jesse Stone Novel Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Parker's enjoyable ninth novel featuring Paradise, Mass., police chief Jesse Stone (after Night and Day), focuses on Stone's deepening connection with PI Sunny Randall, the star of her own series (Spare Change, etc.). Both Jesse and Sunny are still recovering from failed relationships, and Parker does a nice job of integrating their separate therapy sessions (in Sunny's case, with Susan Silverman, the significant other of Parker's best-known detective, Spenser) with two criminal investigations. The parents of 18-year-old Cheryl DeMarco ask Sunny for help in getting Cheryl out of a religious cult, while Stone probes the gunshot murder of Petrov Ognowski, a mob soldier whose boss, Reggie Galen, is the next-door neighbor of another gangster. Neither case is particularly compelling on its own, but they effectively serve as plot devices for the main characters to understand more about themselves and each other. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Petrov Ognowski is dead. A bullet bounced around inside his skull for about six hours before “Suit” Simpson, a patrol officer in the small Massachusetts town of Paradise, found the body. Petrov worked for Reggie Galen, one of two crime bosses who call Paradise home. The other, Knocko Moynihan, lives across the street from Galen. Suit’s boss, chief of police Jesse Stone, finally has occasion to find out why two onetime rivals choose to be neighbors. (Seems they married twin sisters, Rebecca and Roberta, known as the Bang Bang Twins in high school.) Reggie and Knocko are shocked about Petrov’s fate but give Jesse no help with the case. In the meantime, Jesse, still hurting from the latest breakup with his ex-wife, is helping old friend, private detective Sunny Randall, star of her own series, track down a teenager who has moved in with a New Age commune. The three nonconverging plotlines are linked tenuously by one theme: the search for love—the two mobsters with their Bang Bang twins; the teenager, denied affection from her rigidly aristocratic parents, with her commune cohorts; and Jesse and Sunny with each other. And the crimes? The commune is more creepy than comfy, and the Bang Bang Twins may have set in motion a series of events that will lead to violence. Parker’s ninth Jesse Stone novel finds the series in slight decline. The plotlines are thin—hence the need for three—but the dialogue is sharp, and the Jesse-Sunny romance has possibilities. --Wes Lukowsky

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; 1st edition (February 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399156232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399156236
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (265 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
So let's deal with the elephant in the room right away: how does one review a book when the author unexpectedly dies while it's being read?

The death of Dr. Parker was a shock to the genre community, to be sure. Eulogies steeped in eloquence can be found with just a few clicks. The eloquence is deserved, Parker saved the PI genre. That is not debatable. So we will leave those eulogies for you to find (we recommend the one from the NY Times), and say, going forward, this review takes that sad fact into account not one bit.

Split Image is more accurately described as a Jesse Stone/Sunny Randall Novel, both characters are present, together and apart.

Our story begins as Sunny visits Jesse for professional consult. She's been hired to look into an "eccentric" religious organization based in Paradise known as The Renewal. Her clients are parents whose daughter has moved into their house in Paradise. Sunny isn't quite sure if her clients are worried about their daughter or their reputation, and she starts her investigation by getting a briefing from the Paradise Police Chief, with whom she has an interesting romantic relationship. This briefing is filled with the banter that Parker is most famous for, and we immediately feel at home with these two. We like the fact that they are each others' refuge from bad situations in their own lives--Jesse's, the near-constant disappointment brought by his ex-wife, Jenn; Sunny, the irresolvable distance between her and her ex-husband, Richie.

During their chat, a body is discovered in Paradise, that of Mob Enforcer Petrov Ognowski. Jesse leaves Sunny to her business, and start digging.
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Format: Hardcover
"He also split the rock, and the waters gushed out." -- Isaiah 48:21

I held off starting this book until I had absorbed and become accustomed to the news of Robert B. Parker's passing. Rather than anticipating that there would be dozens more Parker novels coming soon, I realized that the time had come to more carefully examine and consider the last few novels in the editorial pipeline.

Split Image was a pleasant surprise for me in several dimensions. Although the cover refers to this as a Jesse Stone novel, there's quite a lot of Sunny Randall in the book, too, as she pursues a private investigation in Paradise, that well-known home and haunt for mobbed-up crooks and moral-appearing bad guys. Their interactions are rich in this series, and Split Image is one of the best books for bringing out the foundations for the mutual attractions and hurdles.

In addition, Mr. Parker has handled a sexually tinged story with much more deftness than he usually did in the past. Sometimes his novels seem to be more like exercises in voyeurism concerning the vulgar than they are stories about human sexuality in all of its dimensions.

To me the best police procedural and crime novels start with an unusual premise . . . and then play out in unexpected ways. Here the premise is one that I would never have come up with in a million years: Two mobsters who don't care that much for one another marry twins and live next door to one another in (where else?) Paradise.

In many police procedurals, you know exactly what to expect from the beginning. Mr. Parker rewards us with a plot that has more surprises to keep things interesting than we have any right to expect. I liked that.

In some of Mr.
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Format: Hardcover
We'll never know how Robert B. Parker intended to carry through in the continuing development of the Jesse Stone-Sunny Randall relationship, but at least we have this novel which, at the very least, holds out the promise they each can address their psychological roadblocks: Jesse's lingering love for his ex-wife and Sonny's prolonged infatuation with her former husband.

But more important, Parker wrote another fine mystery novel in his inimitable style. It is a pretty racy subject, involving a couple of murders and how two sex-crazy women, twins married to two gangsters, are involved. At the same time, Sonny takes on a cult to try to rescue a young woman.

Written with the same aplomb and pithy dialogue as all Parker novels, "Split Image" is at the same time amusing and full of surprises. Parker, of course, died recently, but he left behind some new books to be enjoyed, as well as a legacy of more than 50 novels, of which this is of equal quality, and highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
There always has been something very satisfying about finishing a new Robert B. Parker novel, all of which are so complete and satisfying. But alas, there is a sadness that accompanies the last page of SPLIT IMAGE, the first book released since his death in January. Indeed, while I am sure it was not done intentionally, the novel reads like a valediction for the two non-Spenser protagonists created in the 1990s: Jesse Stone, the chief of police for a small Massachusetts town, and Sunny Randall, the female private eye from Boston.

SPLIT IMAGE is also one of those titles that perfectly reflects what the book is about. Years ago, the late, great mystery author Ed McBain told me that he always tried to get titles that worked on multiple levels. So, for instance, ICE could be something you fall on in the winter, but it could also be slang for stolen diamonds or killing somebody. In SPLIT IMAGE, Jesse and Sunny, who had a brief affair in Beverly Hills many years ago, find themselves involved in two perplexing but unrelated cases in Paradise. Jesse's case starts when a soldier for a retired mobster is bumped off, and he soon finds that the mobster just happens to live next door to another mobster, one who is not so retired. They are not rivals as far as anybody knows. As a matter of fact, they are both married to sisters who are identical twins, hence a "split image."

Meanwhile, Sunny has been hired by the parents of a young woman who has run off to join a quasi-religious group in a town called "The Renewal." The group seems harmless enough, but they just might have a split image of their own --- and it could be far more sinister.
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