For Police Chief Jesse Stone, the return of Wilson “Crow” Cromartie is a bit of a surprise. When last seen, he was fleeing Paradise, Massachusetts with a lot of cash and leaving wreckage, dead bodies and shaken hostages in his wake. While he wasn’t responsible for all of it, he was there and he was involved. What they know he did and what they can prove he did are two different things and for Jesse Stone there is also that nasty little statute of limitations problem regarding what happened. Known to one and all as “Crow” he wants Jesse to know that he is in town on business and looking for someone. Once that person is found, Crow will report the news to his employer who may or may not have further instructions on the matter. When that happens they will have to go from there because Crow may or may not do his employer’s bidding depending on the situation. In a weird way, Crow and Jesse have a lot in common and it could be argued that they are two sides of the same coin.

It isn’t surprising that before long Crow and Jesse are actively working together to protect a young out of control teenager from her drunken mother and mobster father. To do so, Jesse has to enlist his ex-wife Jenn in the cause who is in town anyway to investigate and report on the alleged rising influx of Hispanic gangs. Last time Crow was involved a bridge was blown up. This time the causeway will be the scene of a violent showdown with just as explosive results.

The fact that little separates the characters of Spenser and Jesse as envisioned by Robert B. Parker has always been self evident. In this case, it goes a bit over the top with the addition of Crow who could also be known as the American Indian Hawk. Like Spencer’s sidekick Hawk, Crow is the strong silent type who gets things done in mysterious ways that others can’t prove and is irresistible to the ladies as well as the sameness in bird reference names. The only difference between the two of them is the fact that Crow is American Indian.

What has made this series more interesting than the Spenser series is the heavier psychological component of the main character. While Spenser has his dark moments, Jesse lives with darkness everyday and copes as best as he can often through self medication using alcohol. Beyond the obvious relationship issue which Susan and Spencer deal with and Jesse and Jenn deal with, there has been the issue of Jesse’s drinking. Initially, Jesse’s drinking caused him to come to Paradise and has been used by his work in therapy to consider other issues. Increasingly, the psychological reasons why events happen and people act they way they do has become a major storyline in the series from book to book. That is the case again here with references to the above stated issues as well as something else which drives one long running character to act in a way totally unexpected.

Author Robert B. Parker has penned another fast moving tale with plenty of action, occasional violence as well as retrospective moments, set in bucolic Paradise, Massachusetts. The folks that live there really need to think about changing the name of the place. 

Stranger In Paradise: A Jesse Stone Novel

Robert B. Parker

Thorndike Press

Hardcover Large Print Edition

ISBN# 1-4104-0369-6

2008

323 Pages

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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