Review

Stone Cold: A Jesse Stone Novel

by Robert B. Parker

Read an
Excerpt




STONE COLD, the fourth of Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone novels, is
not a mystery. We're introduced to the villains of the piece right
on page one. We don't know their names and we don't know much about
them, but we know what they're doing. They are a man and woman,
passionate lovers whose idea of foreplay is to commit a carefully
plotted murder. The victim is randomly selected by wind and whimsy,
scouted and dispatched with two simultaneously administered gunshot
wounds to the chest. Either shot could be the fatal one. That's
part of the thrill for them.

Stone is the police chief of the village of Paradise, an affluent
Boston suburb where murders of this type are simply not supposed to
happen. They are a policeman's nightmare: unpredictable and
apparently related only by the methodology of the acts and the
perpetrators. Stone determines the identities of the murderers soon
enough, but not because he is Supercop. It's a combination of
dogged police work and luck, pure and simple. The murderers are
Anthony and Brianna Lincoln, independently wealthy, confident and
twisted. Knowing who the murderers are and proving it are two
different things, however. Stone and the murderers play an
engaging, if chilling, game of cat and mouse, with Stone having
only two advantages. One is that his adversaries underestimate him.
The other is that, unbeknownst to the Lincolns, Stone is aware that
they have marked him as their next victim.

In the meantime, Stone grapples with another matter of no small
import. A local high school girl has been gang-raped by three of
her fellow students who have photographed the act and threaten to
distribute the pictures if she tells anyone. Stone wants to help,
and does. But he finds that all he can do is not quite enough.
Stone, as with many alcoholics, labors under a Messiah complex,
believing that he can ultimately resolve all of the evils in the
world through force of will. He cannot, though he does make a
difference. It is learning to live with the distance between what
is and what would have been ideal that makes STONE COLD an
arresting work. And then there is Stone's personal life. He is
slowly coming to grips with his alcoholism while attempting to deal
with his unresolved feelings and passions for his
ex-wife. 

Stone has heretofore been relegated to the position of being one of
Parker's "other" creations, relative to Spenser, who has been with
us now for well over a quarter-century and has crossed over from
books into film. Parker has been slowly developing Stone, carefully
hewing him into something other than Spenser with a badge. And he
has largely succeeded. Stone is confident but lacks Spenser's
self-assuredness, which in some ways makes him a bit more
vulnerable and perhaps more endearing than Spenser. What is most
remarkable, however, is Parker's ability to not only sustain the
quality of his writing but also to continue to develop his
characters.

STONE COLD and Parker's 2003 Spenser novel BACK STORY are among the
best works of his career. Certainly they are among the top ten, if
not the top five. That Parker at this late date can continue to
keep older characters fresh and interesting while developing new
and different ongoing projects successfully demonstrates that it
may well be impossible to overestimate Parker's place in the
hierarchy of detective fiction.

If you haven't been reading the Jesse Stone novels because of what
they are not, STONE COLD is the perfect place to jump on. Parker,
no matter where he turns his hand, is capable of producing work
that is nothing less than an absolute delight. Highly
recommended.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Stone Cold: A Jesse Stone Novel
by Robert B. Parker

  • Publication Date: September 29, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0399150870
  • ISBN-13: 9780399150876