The Barnes & Noble Review
In this Jesse Stone mystery (Sea Change et al.), crime fiction icon Robert B. Parker's revisits the seaside town of Paradise, Massachusetts, and its much-flawed police chief as Stone struggles to make sense of a double homicide involving a divisive talk show host and his pregnant mistress.
As Stone and his misfit crew (officers Luther "Suitcase" Simpson, Molly Crane, et al.) begin to unravel the bizarre murders of Walton Weeks -- a politically outspoken talk show host and columnist, à la Bill O'Reilly, with more than a few enemies -- and his pretty young assistant, Carey Longley, they must also deal with the pressure associated with being in the national media spotlight. A conniving wife, numerous ex-wives, a bodyguard with a shadowy past, and an overly ambitious research assistant only complicate the investigation; and to make matters worse, Stone's promiscuous ex informs him that she has been raped. With the help of love interest Sunny Randall, Stone tries to figure out the murderer's motive -- and the reasons behind the wreckage of his own personal life…
Longtime fans and historians of American crime fiction will find Parker's newest mystery not only immensely entertaining and emotionally compelling but also a masterful example of how the refined use of dialogue can power and shape a narrative. Parker's minimalist use of conversation throughout -- concise, understated, and bitingly witty dialogue contrasted with brilliant sequences of nonverbal exchange -- give the novel a darkly introspective, melancholic feel. This dichotomy exemplifies Stone himself: a supremely capable detective who can't seem to piece together the mystery of his own life. Paul Goat Allen
The murder of Walton Weeks, a Rush Limbaugh–like political commentator in sleepy Paradise, Mass., drives the action of bestseller Parker's competent whodunit, a sequel of sorts to Blue Screen(2006), which first paired two of the authors' non-Parker series characters—Jess Stone, an ex-LAPD detective trying to resurrect his career as Paradise's police chief, and PI Sunny Randall—with predictable romantic results. After a stalker sexually assaults Stone's ex-wife, Jenn, Stone asks Randall to serve as Jenn's bodyguard. Stone finds himself under atypical media and political scrutiny, especially after Weeks's pregnant mistress is also found dead in Paradise. Both Stone and Randall are still weighed down with significant emotional baggage from their exes, and it's Parker's exploration of their ambivalent relationship that is this book's strength. The plot, however, is much less developed than Jane Haddam's Hardscrabble Road(2006), which likewise featured the murder of a right-wing radio commentator. (Feb.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Robert B. Parker is that rarity--a prolific author whose books are consistently original, suspenseful and fascinating. His crackling dialogue is always fresh and smart-alecky. His sparse prose makes Hemingway seem like a windbag. You don't have to work to get into Parker's books. You're happily hooked before you know it. He published three mysteries in 2007 (G.P. Putnam's Sons). Spare Change ($24.95).Boston PI Sunny Randall is asked by her father and former cop, Phil, to help him investigate what appears to be the return of a serial killer who leaves three coins next to each of his head-shot victims. Now, after a 30-year hiatus, the killer is back at his grim business. Phil headed--unsuccessfully--the original investigations of these killings and is now back to assist police in tracking down the killer. After interviewing a number of people rounded up because they were in proximity to a recent killing, Sunny thinks she's found the villain. But how to get the proof? Hunches are not enough. Sunny takes a high-risk approach, going out to dinner with the suspect, who seems to take perverse pleasure in being investigated.
The case becomes even more dangerous and urgent when the killer starts choosing victims who resemble Sunny. The suspense is periodically punctuated by many of the characters' various--and usually messy--personal relationships, including Sunny's ex-husband, who comes from a mob family. High Profile ($24.95). The hero in this tale is Jesse Stone, the alcohol-challenged police chief of a small town called Paradise. Stone's battle with the bottle forced him out of the Los Angeles Police Department. A controversial libertarian talk-radio host, Walton Weeks, is found shot andhanging from a tree in Paradise. Shortly thereafter another body turns up in a Dumpster--that of a young woman who had worked for Weeks and was pregnant with his child. Amazingly, Weeks' former wives and current wife seem oddly detached. But Weeks' notoriety has Stone coping with a deluge of media, as well as a publicity-hungry state governor. As in Spare Change, the characters here all have less-than-perfect personal lives. Stone, for instance, is still obsessed with his ex-wife, even though she is what was once called a "loose woman." Despite these and other personal sideshows, the story proceeds absorbingly and briskly.
Now & Then ($25.95). Parker's third home-run novel involves his original hero-character, Spenser (whose first name is still a mystery). A routine case of an aggrieved husband wanting to find out for sure if his attractive wife has been unfaithful veers into several murders involving a gang of terrorists. Spenser's longtime squeeze, Susan Silverman, a both-feet-on-the-ground shrink, finds herself in mortal danger as she treats a suspected killer who prides himself on being able to seduce any woman he desires. You'll remain oblivious to the rest of the world as you race through Parker's latest mesmerizing masterpiece. (7 Jan 2008)
More trouble comes to Paradise, MA, in Parker's (Sea Change) latest Jesse Stone novel, another excellent if too-short entry in an outstanding series. When a prominent national talk-show host is found hanged, Jesse is forced to handle not only a murder case but also the accompanying media circus. On top of that, there's a band of ex-wives, a group of untrustworthy coworkers, and a young woman's family around to both help and hinder his investigation. There is nothing sensational in the action, but Parker's writing doesn't need that; Jesse is interesting enough without nonstop action. As in the previous Stone novels, Jesse spends plenty of time dealing with relationship issues, especially his ongoing efforts to work things out with his ex-wife. This can get tedious, but readers will sympathize with Jesse's everyman struggles. While this series is unlikely to match the popularity of Parker's Spenser series, it deserves its own praise. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ10/1/06.]
Craig Shufelt Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
While trying to solve a delicate murder case, small-town police chief Jesse Stone comes up with a uniquely ingenious way to juggle the two ladies in his life. Talk-show host Walton Weeks, star of newspapers, radio and television, must have kept his publicist working overtime even unto death. How else to explain the discovery of his corpse hanging from a tree in a quiet park in Paradise? To add insult to injury, Weeks wasn't even hanged till after he'd bled out from bullet wounds suffered elsewhere-perhaps wherever his assistant Carey Longley, pregnant with his first child, was shot by the same gun before she was dumped in the lower-rent Dumpster behind Daisy Dyke's restaurant. The obvious suspects-Weeks's two ex-wives and their most recent successor, his bodyguard, researcher, manager and lawyer-all have alibis, and as Jesse candidly tells the Massachusetts governor, the solution will have to wait for more clues, presumably including the obligatory revelations of past secrets and current sexual peccadilloes. Meanwhile, Jesse's romance with private eye Sunny Randall (Sea Change, 2006) is frozen by the news that Jenn, the ex-wife he's never been able to get over, is being stalked by the man who raped her. How to deal with the two rivals? Only Jesse would come up with the sublime solution: He hires Sunny as Jenn's bodyguard. If the complications that follow don't live up to the situation's promise, even mid-level Parker is always well worth your time and money.