Trouble in Paradise

Robert B. Parker, Author Penguin USA $22.95 (324p) ISBN 978-0-399-14433-2
Tough and tight, Parker's second Jesse Stone crime novel (after last year's Night Passage) finds the chief of police of modest Paradise, Mass., battling a ruthless gang of thieves even as he jousts with personal demons. Two parallel plotlines tell the story. One follows career criminal James Macklin and his moll, Faye, and their planning and subsequent execution of the heist of all the money and valuables on super-rich Stiles Island, which is connected by bridge to Paradise. Meanwhile, there's Stone, a cool customer who's not afraid to step on wealthy toes but who can't get his love life in order and can barely control his taste for booze. The crime line is the stronger of the two, traced in prose as lean as any Parker has wrought, a grand little caper tale in its own right as Macklin collects a rogue's gallery of accomplices, isolates Stiles Island by dynamiting its bridge and harbor, then preys upon its inhabitants. Stone's romantic entanglements, particularly his troubled relationship with his ex-wife, add texture to the novel and are notably less sentimental than the amours of his Spenser stories. They manifest at times in a histrionic way, however--as when the ex assaults a woman trying to get Stone fired--that retards the surge of the crime story. Stone remains a magnetic character, as silent as Spenser is chatty but equally strong, though likely too enigmatic at this juncture to engender the sort of reader affection that Spenser enjoys. Parker fans and all who love muscular crime writing will appreciate this tale, as the Boston-based crime master once again shows how to do it well, and with style. BOMC main selection. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
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