Review

Night Passage

by Robert B. Parker

Actor Richard Masur rises to the occasion and provides a
well-acted and engaging reading of this involving thriller by
Spenser creator Robert B. Parker.  This is the start of a
new series by Parker starring his latest creation, police chief
Jesse Stone, and Masur provides the multitude of character voices
needed to dramatize this tale of corrupt politicians, thugs for
hire, an honest but troubled police chief, and superficial
small-town husbands and wives.  Oh yes, there are also
various females who complicate our intrepid police chief's life, as
well as a crazed militia group.  

Parker balances all these diverse elements well, producing an
entertaining story of a divorced Los Angeles cop trying to start a
new life in the small New England community of Paradise,
Massachusetts.  The main plot revolves around the corrupt
Paradise government which thinks it has hired an incompetent,
alcoholic police chief --- which is exactly what it wants. All soon
realizes Stone is a very good cop who only temporarily lost his
bearings due to the painful break-up of his
marriage.  

As in many of his other books, "Night Passage" spends time
examining the issues of honor --- and the unlikely places it turns
up --- personal codes, and the importance of doing what one says
one will do.  Thus, this story features characters who
are definitely "bad guys," but who the author nevertheless
considers honorable and worthy of respect, as well as characters
who are ostensibly "upstanding citizens," but are in reality
buffoons, selfish back-stabbers, or both.  Masur, who has
had a varied TV, film, and stage career --- but who you probably
remember as Bonnie Franklin's boyfriend on the sitcom "One Day at a
Time" --- sees the complicated nature of the characters and
portrays them accordingly.  There's not a simple,
one-note performance in the bunch.  I especially liked
the way Masur picked up the subtle hints in the prose and saw to it
that even the many catty, superficial wives in Paradise, who are
primarily concerned with "keeping up with the Joneses," are
portrayed with some depth of feeling.

Though officially abridged, this audio production has made only
minor edits to the original text.  One essentially gets
the whole novel.  Also available in the audio format is
the second novel featuring Jesse Stone, TROUBLE IN
PARADISE.  Happily, it's also read by Richard
Masur.

Reviewed by Joe Menta, Jr. on January 22, 2011

Night Passage
by Robert B. Parker

  • Publication Date: September 15, 1998
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • : pages
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • ISBN-10: 0553525247
  • ISBN-13: 9780553525243