August 11, 2011 by wcobserver
Reviewed By Kelly Gass
This month I review a book by the late and prolific author, Robert B Parker. It is one of nine books from the author’s fabulously successful Jesse Stone series. Perhaps you have seen episodes from this series on CBS. The chief of police from the small New England town of Paradise is played by Tom Selleck. To the producer’s credit, in the TV series, Selleck maintains the same low-key chief of police persona that correlates closely with the actual books.
Also the same formulaic story line holds consistent throughout these books. Small-town chief of police, Jesse Stone is a personal wreck. He is an alcoholic divorced from his wife, Jen, who in spite of her unfaithfulness, is never far from his thoughts. Jesse’s supporting cast includes his right hand police-woman, Molly, and his right hand policeman, Suit. In spite of Jesse’s personal demons, he manages to be an extraordinarily brilliant crime-solver.
The book starts out with Paradise school principal Betsy Ingersoll setting the local parents in an uproar. Betsy has personally inspected each of their darling girl’s underpants to ensure that none are inappropriate, before the girls take the stage in a performance. Betsy doesn’t seem too concerned about prosecution. Her husband is a high-powered, big-firm attorney. Of course, that doesn’t stop Jesse from putting the pressure on Betsy to get at the bottom of this odd and community-shaking incident of school administrative intrusion.
Around the same time of the panty incident, there are reports of a peeping-tom in the neighborhood. The voyeur quickly goes from window-peeking to breaking in and forcing the women to strip naked. After each incident, the voyeur sends brutally honest letters to Jesse, including the naked photos of each victim.
The author quickly and seamlessly, introduces a three-ring circus. In addition to the on-going panty escapade and the voyeur’s episodes, Jesse also looks into a wife-swapping club in this mostly quiet and innocent New England town of Paradise.
I have read several of Parker’s books over the last couple of years. Like Hemingway, Parker is a master of sparse dialog. Unlike Hemingway, Parker doesn’t produce masterful banquets. Parker produces the junk food that many modern and busy readers prefer. His rather large hard cover books are deceptively quick reads. They may look challenging with many pages, but the print is large, the paper is thick and there is lots of blank real estate on the pages. The paragraphs are really short. These attributes make this detective series an easy summer read, even with many interruptions.
Parker’s are not the For Whom the Bell Tolls stories you will remember, but they are quick to read and provide satisfying short-lived entertainment.
The author passed away in January 2010. His most popular writing was his Spenser series. It was made into a TV show called “Spenser for Hire” starring Robert Urich. He wrote nine Jesse Stone novels, many having been made into TV shows.
I for one will miss Robert Parker.