Reading a Robert B. Parker novel is like returning home after a long absence. He has proven time and again that straightforward stories with familiar characters never lose their appeal. Fans are grateful that Michael Brandman has been blessed with the ability to carry on the legacy.
Once again, trouble comes to Paradise. Paradise, MA, that is, a small coastal town that often manages to attract more action than might be expected by those who call it home. Police Chief Jesse Stone is never unduly surprised, however, since he worked several years for the Los Angeles Police Department. LA's loss was Paradise's gain when Jesse relocated after being fired for inappropriate behavior while intoxicated on duty. But he has proven himself to be an excellent officer once he stopped drinking, much to the chagrin of the town officials who felt it would be easy to manipulate a drinker. Not to say that Jesse is abstinent, but he seldom ever lets alcohol take control anymore and limits his imbibing to one scotch or two beers a day. Usually.
"[L]est anyone think this is a warm, fuzzy Mayberry-USA story, it is definitely full of enough action, plotting and surprises to keep everyone engaged. Guaranteed not to cause yawns or impatience, its only downside is having the book end and waiting for the next episode."
In FOOL ME TWICE, trouble comes in several different forms. One is a bratty teenager who almost kills a man with her Mercedes while texting. She is completely unrepentant and threatens Jesse with her daddy's money and power if he arrests her. Another is a bratty film star. Marisol Hinton is in town to film a movie; she's completely self-focused, demanding and manipulative. Jesse's small town police department is stretched to the limit when it is discovered that Marisol's ex-husband is stalking her. Then there is William Goodwin, Commissioner of the Paradise Water and Power Company, whose passion for natural resources leads him to extremes and possible criminal charges.
Jesse Stone is an unlikely hero, yet he is one of the genre's most engaging characters. Creating a personality who people can identify with on many levels is no easy task; someone who cracks wise may not be too hard, but a wise someone who cracks wise is special. Brandman has picked up where Parker left off. Perhaps not seamlessly, as evidenced by some hesitation in KILLING THE BLUES, his first attempt, but here he does not miss a stitch. The dialogue says it all. When a beautiful Hollywood producer, in town for the filming, agrees to have dinner with him, our stalwart Police Chief says, “Goody.” Later, after dinner, when Jesse and Frankie are saying goodnight and she asks him if he thinks they could “do this again,” he says, “I do.” She says, “Goody.”
Our hero proves once again that no good deed goes unpunished. When he determines that the bratty teenager is actually crying out for help, her parents tell him in no uncertain terms to butt out. His attempt to protect the movie diva goes sideways when her vengeful ex comes looking for her, stoked up on Shabu, a powerful new designer form of meth. And when he engages Rita Fiore, a top defense attorney to defend Commissioner Goodwin, the man refuses to return her calls. But Jesse does not discourage easily and follows the cases until they are concluded --- usually with good results for everyone. No spoilers here.
But, lest anyone think this is a warm, fuzzy Mayberry-USA story, it is definitely full of enough action, plotting and surprises to keep everyone engaged. Guaranteed not to cause yawns or impatience, its only downside is having the book end and waiting for the next episode.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on September 21, 2012