Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot: A Jesse Stone Novel
The publication of BLIND SPOT, the latest book in Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone canon, gives readers both old and new to the series a number of reasons to rejoice. The primary one concerns the placement of Reed Farrel Coleman at the writing helm. Coleman has a fiercely loyal fan base, but up until now has been somewhat commercially under-appreciated, despite garnering critical acclaim as an author’s author. His authorship of BLIND SPOT should change that, and immediately so. What Coleman accomplishes is nothing more or less than moving Jesse Stone out of the shadow of Spenser --- his older, more confident and confidential brother in fiction --- and establish him as a peer in the firmament of Parker’s legacy. It doesn’t get any better than that.
"Reed Farrel Coleman and Jesse Stone are a perfect one-two combination that will put these novels on your must-read list if they are not there already."
Coleman’s extremely sure-footed initial effort at the helm is an unforgettable installment in the series, one in which Jesse’s past shoulders up against his present. A good portion of his somewhat troubled persona has been built on his once-promising baseball career that ended when he was on the cusp of going to the major leagues, thanks to a freak game-related injury. As BLIND SPOT opens, Jesse is experiencing some buyer’s remorse, if you will, for agreeing to attend a reunion of his Albuquerque Dukes teammates. What is especially galling is that the reunion has been arranged by Vic Prado, Jesse’s former roommate. Vic was indirectly --- and possibly intentionally --- responsible for the accident that ended Jesse’s career. As Jesse’s star descended, Vic’s ascended; he went on to the major leagues, became an A-List star, and, worst of all, took Kayla, Jesse’s girlfriend, with him.
In the present, however, everyone from Jesse to Vic to Kayla is full of regrets. Jesse, the police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts, teeters on the brink of alcoholism and broods about what might have been with his baseball career and Jenn, his ex-wife; Kayla regrets her marriage to the philandering Vic and misses Jesse; and Vic is in deep trouble. He has involved himself with some childhood friends who could be poster boys for a warning about the evil of bad companions (not that Vic is a model of virtue himself), and, thanks to a Ponzi-type scheme that is going off the rails, needs to find a way out. Vic has engineered the entire reunion as a way of drawing in Jesse, hoping that his former friend, teammate and roommate can parlay his law enforcement experience into an extraction plan. Before Vic can really approach Jesse, though, he finds himself at least partially complicit in the murder of an innocent and the kidnapping of the youngest son of a wealthy and ruthless investor.
As Jesse follows a complex trail that slowly leads back to Vic’s associates --- and Vic himself --- he also becomes romantically involved with a friend of Kayla’s who is concealing some very interesting secrets of her own. The actions of Vic’s associates have unwittingly unleashed a force that will come back at them, along with Vic and Jesse as well. Before the book ends, it is clear that nothing in Jesse’s immediate future will be the same.
BLIND SPOT is everything a volume in this series can and should be. It stands complete in itself, filling in the backstory for newcomers (and providing gentle reminders for fans) while encouraging exploration of the backlist and leaving a (chilling) plot thread or two unresolved, ready to be picked up over the course of the next book or two. Reed Farrel Coleman and Jesse Stone are a perfect one-two combination that will put these novels on your must-read list if they are not there already.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on September 12, 2014