Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues, by Michael Brandman ISBN 9780399157844
Five out of five stars
Robert B. Parker created some of the best characters in the genre of detective fiction, people that have their flaws, yet are principled and manage to solve the crimes. Although not always using conventional means. His tales of the characters of Spenser with entourage, Sunny Randle and Jesse Stone are characterized by some of the best dialog ever to appear in detective novels. This book, written after Parker’s death, is a continuation of that style.
Brandman captures the essence of Jesse Stone as constructed by Parker. There is a sudden crime wave in Paradise and Jesse and his small department are forced to confront several issues at once. The first is the sudden appearance of a car theft ring where they are snatched and quickly chopped and shipped. While they are serious crimes, the situation becomes dire when the owner of a car is killed during a robbery attempt.
A second crime wave is a consequence of Stone’s past. When he was at his lowest point in dealing with his divorce from Jenn and deep into his alcoholic state, Jesse severely beat a man named Rollo Nurse. Nurse’s face was damaged, and he was recently released from prison and has traveled to Paradise to even the score. His desire is to carry out a series of preliminary actions that will force the police to investigate before killing Jesse.
A third crime sequence is brought to a head when a schoolgirl takes the principal hostage at gunpoint. It is up to Jesse to gain the girl’s trust and once he does, several crimes taking place at the school are exposed.
The action is fast and while not furious, has sufficient tension to keep the reader focused on the book. This is a novel that one does not start reading before bed as it will cause the reader to avoid “heavy eyelid syndrome.”