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Robert B. Parker's Colorblind: A Jesse Stone Novel


Robert B. Parker's Colorblind: A Jesse Stone Novel

I consider COLORBLIND to be a transitional volume in the Jesse Stone canon. Since acquiring the reins of the series created by the late Robert B. Parker, Reed Farrel Coleman has been nudging it stylistically toward his own considerable body of work and away from that of its creator. While one can come to the series with certain expectations, the 800-pound grizzly bear in the room that is acknowledged uneasily, if at all, is that Jesse Stone is not the character for whom Parker was primarily known. I think this would give Coleman greater license to take the characters that Parker created and, while not changing them fundamentally, present them on his own canvas, which he has been honing for decades. This novel substantially completes that process.

COLORBLIND turns several corners in the lives of its characters as well. Jesse, the police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts, begins the book after undergoing rehabilitation for alcohol addiction, determined to embrace sobriety rather than pretending to, as he himself notes. He is challenged almost immediately by a series of violent attacks against individuals and families involved in interracial relationships.

"While there is plenty of action and suspense in COLORBLIND, the most significant passages deal with Jesse’s thoughtfulness and introspection."

At the same time, Alicia, one of Jesse’s officers --- the first black woman on the force --- is part of a fatal off-duty shooting while she, ironically enough, is intoxicated. She insists that the deceased, the son of a local white supremacist, was armed and fired at her first, but there isn’t a weapon on or near his body. It’s bad enough that Alicia was involved in a shooting while she was drunk and off duty. The fact that the man was apparently unarmed has significant repercussions, not only with respect to Alicia’s job but also with ratcheting racial tensions even higher in the normally (relatively) peaceful community.

Jesse is also dealing with a personal issue, in addition to maintaining his newfound sobriety. An enigmatic young man named Cole Slayton has arrived in Paradise, living rough and with a bad attitude toward law enforcement in general and Jesse in particular. Jesse, notwithstanding Cole’s hostility, finds temporary housing and some gainful employment for him, even as he wonders what has brought Cole to Paradise. The answer will surprise both of them in different ways, even as it will echo through future installments of the series.

While there is plenty of action and suspense in COLORBLIND, the most significant passages deal with Jesse’s thoughtfulness and introspection. Sobriety doesn’t come easy for him, and the accounts of his efforts to attend meetings and work the Twelve Steps (without succumbing to the Thirteenth) is first rate. The story also includes some out-of-the-box detective work on Jesse’s part as he attempts to keep Alicia out of jail, if not on the force altogether, following the shooting incident. He goes through some things you won’t want to try at home, but are worth the price of admission to this book all by themselves.

Those new to the series or who have been away for a while should pick up this volume and stick with it. It appears that Coleman is just getting started with his own version of the Stone saga.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on September 13, 2018

Robert B. Parker's Colorblind: A Jesse Stone Novel
by Reed Farrel Coleman

  • Publication Date: August 27, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0399574964
  • ISBN-13: 9780399574962