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Parker's latest mystery brings two of his series characters, Boston PI Sunny Randall and Paradise, Mass., chief of police Jesse Stone together for the first time. Zillionaire Buddy Bollen hires Randall as bodyguard to his live-in girlfriend, the minimally talented but beautiful and athletic Erin Flint, who has starred in several movies Bollen's produced. As the owner of a baseball team, he wants Flint to be the first female major league player. Flint's fear of physical reprisal against her as she attempts to break the baseball gender barrier leads to the hiring of Randall. When Flint's assistant is found dead, Stone joins Randall, professionally and romantically, to solve the murder. Parker, as usual, delivers a fine novel, whose serviceable plot exists primarily to showcase his well-drawn characters. Although she may upon occasion lose track of whose voice is whose, Burton does an admirable job of delivering Parker's dialogue, which is as stylistically unique as a David Mamet play. Her first-person narration from Randall's point of view and expository passages are nicely performed, bringing just the right amount of world-weariness to her characterization.
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Erin Flint is on all the magazine covers, and her last movie--lotta body, acting not so much--was boffo box office. Her lover-manager, Buddy Bollen, who also owns a major-league baseball team, wants Flint to play for his team--a cameo, but timed to coincide with the release of her next movie. But Erin fears there may be an attempt on her life, so Boston investigator Sunny Randall is hired to be her bodyguard. While working on her batting skills in the resort town of Paradise, one of Erin's entourage is murdered. Sunny, with the blessing of Paradise police chief Jesse Stone--another Parker series regular--sets off to find the killer. Parker has never been big on plots. He's all about character, characters, and snappy dialogue, and all are present here in spades. What makes this special is the dalliance between Stone and Randall. Both are smart, clever, witty, brave, burdened with the weight of past loves, and, well, downright horny. This isn't Parker's best work, but it may be his most lighthearted. Wes Lukowsky
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