Wednesday, February 20, 2013

This is the ninth book in Robert B. Parker's series featuring Jesse Stone, the police chief in the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts. Also featured prominently is another of Parker's series protagonists, P.I. Sunny Randall. In previous books, Stone and Randall have gradually become involved with each other romantically, and this book seems to exist principally so that their relationship can continue to evolve. The two are both freshly out of relationships that ended badly; both are still at least a bit hung up on their exes, and both are in analysis, so at least they have something in common.

Two cases develop simultaneously, allowing Jesse and Sunny to interact. Sunny has been hired by a wealthy couple to retrieve their daughter from a religious cult in Paradise. The cult seems pretty mild, and so, although some townspeople are unhappy about its existence in their quaint little town, Jesse has had no reason to harass the cult members.

Meanwhile, a low-level mobster has been found in the back of his Escalade, parked in Paradise, with a bullet in his head. This leads Jesse to question two allegedly retired mobsters who are living next door to each other in virtually identical houses. They also have identical wives--twin sisters that apparently the husbands cannot even tell apart. Another dead mobster will soon join the first, and Jess has a very puzzling case on his hands. Save for the inspired actions of a grieving widow, it may never be solved.

Both Sunny's case and Jesse's investigation are fairly insubstantial affairs, but it seems that the main purpose of all of the cases in Parker's later books, the Spenser novels included, was simply to provide some action onto which Parker could hang a lot of witty dialogue. There's certainly no shortage of it here, and while this is a book that no one is likely to long remember, it certainly provides a very pleasant escape on a rainy afternoon.

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