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The murder of Walton Weeks, a Rush Limbaugh–like political commentator in sleepy Paradise, Mass., drives the action of bestseller Parker's competent whodunit, a sequel of sorts to Blue Screen (2006), which first paired two of the authors' non-Parker series characters—Jess Stone, an ex-LAPD detective trying to resurrect his career as Paradise's police chief, and PI Sunny Randall—with predictable romantic results. After a stalker sexually assaults Stone's ex-wife, Jenn, Stone asks Randall to serve as Jenn's bodyguard. Stone finds himself under atypical media and political scrutiny, especially after Weeks's pregnant mistress is also found dead in Paradise. Both Stone and Randall are still weighed down with significant emotional baggage from their exes, and it's Parker's exploration of their ambivalent relationship that is this book's strength. The plot, however, is much less developed than Jane Haddam's Hardscrabble Road (2006), which likewise featured the murder of a right-wing radio commentator. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* Walton Weeks is a one-man media empire. He hosts a popular national radio gabfest, writes a newspaper column, and churns out best-selling books. At least he did until someone shot him and left him hanging from a tree in Paradise, Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter, the body of Weeks' pregnant lover is discovered in a nearby dumpster. Paradise police chief Jesse Stone fends off pressure from the governor and the state police in order to solve the high-profile case with the resources of his 12-person force. The potential suspects include two ex-wives, a widow, a bodyguard, and assorted staff members. Stone's problem is determining a motive. In a parallel plot, Stone attends to the needs of his ex-wife, Jenn, who alleges she was raped and claims she is being stalked by her attacker. Unable to cope with the murders and the rape, Stone calls on private investigator Sunny Randall--a sometime lover--to help with Jenn. Obsessive, sometimes unhealthy love is a recurring theme in Parker's work. In his Spenser novels, the protagonist and his lover have come through the tough times intact. Stone and Jenn have a strong but deleterious bond and are in the midst of a trying emotional journey to an unknown destination. This is Parker's most complex, ambitious novel in years. Spenser is always the toughest, coolest guy in the room. Jesse Stone sometimes seems like the toughest, coolest guy in the room, but he knows he's not. Great reading from an old hand who hasn't lost his touch. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.