Review

Robert B. Parker's Damned if You Do: A Jesse Stone Novel

by Michael Brandman

In this latest visit to Paradise, Massachusetts, we are reunited with many of our friends and acquaintances and are introduced to new ones. Some will enhance Chief Jesse Stone's life, while others will threaten it.

It's interesting that I often find correlations between my reading of novels and my reading of the scriptures. In the Bible, Jesse is a very important character in the lineage of Jesus. He was known to be a wise and just man. Whether by coincidence or design, Jesse Stone is the same kind of man. He has the wisdom that comes from years of experience and pursues a crusade for justice that can only be attributed to his DNA. When all others have given up on a case, Jesse continues to run down every lead, refusing to quit regardless of circumstances or threats to his own life. 

"I would personally like to thank Robert B. Parker for creating an admirable character like Jesse Stone and Michael Brandman for continuing his adventures and helping to keep Parker’s memory very much alive."  

In one exchange with his colleague, Molly, she is advising him to back away from the case he is working on because some very bad people are threatening him. “Surely you see that I'm right about this,” she said. “I said I'd take it under advisement.” “But you don't mean it.” “I do mean it.” “You never mean it when you say you'll take something under advisement.” “How can you say such a thing?” “Because I know you, Jesse. You're a hard case, and you only do what you want to do.”     

And, as usual, Molly has it right, which makes it lucky for the good guys and not so lucky for the baddies --- in this case, the smarmy owners and managers of the Golden Horizons Retirement Village. Dr. Binky and his goon squad of “attendants” are not above tying their elderly clients to their beds and medicating them into a stupor so they can be more easily managed. Jesse becomes aware of the grievous practices when he visits his old friend, Donnie Jacobs. Donnie had to give up his own home when early onset Alzheimer’s made it necessary for him to have assisted living arrangements. Jesse initiates a series of local visits to the retirement village by the fire department, the health department and building code inspectors designed to force correction of the problems.

In addition to his work on behalf of the residents, Jesse finds himself in the middle of a turf war between two competing pimps. Both Thomas Walker and Fat Boy Nelly want to be in charge of the lucrative prostitution business in the popular vacation area in and around Paradise. Chief Stone gets involved because a woman who both of them are “courting” is found dead in one of the town's seedier motels. As Jesse investigates the homicide, he must naturally step on the toes of some very dangerous and desperatepeople.

Jesse Stone, like Jesse of the Old Testament, displays characteristics that set certain people apart in real life as well as in fiction. To pursue justice is noble. To pursue justice with mercy and humility is a gift. Chief Stone has that gift. Despite his wise-cracking persona when it comes to dealing with the bad guys, he is incredibly caring and thoughtful when interacting with the victims and their families. Whether he is visiting Donnie, who sometimes remembers him, or bringing closure to the mother of a murdered prostitute, Jesse is the image of someone we would love to have in our circle.

I would personally like to thank Robert B. Parker for creating an admirable character like Jesse Stone and Michael Brandman for continuing his adventures and helping to keep Parker’s memory very much alive.

Reviewed by Maggie Harding on September 13, 2013

Robert B. Parker's Damned if You Do: A Jesse Stone Novel
by Michael Brandman

  • Publication Date: September 10, 2013
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0399159509
  • ISBN-13: 9780399159503