Sea Change Hardcover – Feb 7 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Filled with tawdry sexual shenanigans, bestseller Parker's fifth Jesse Stone novel (after 2003's Stone Cold) finds the former L.A. cop, now the police chief of Paradise, Mass., tentatively reunited with his ex-wife, Jenn, and approaching a year since his last drink. The murder of a woman aboard a sailboat leads Stone into a world of wealth and depravity centered on a couple of yacht owners from Florida and their crowd. Drugs, pornography, rape and underage sex provide a degrading framework for the murder investigation. Stone gets a valuable assist from Kelly Cruz, a Fort Lauderdale cop, as he traces the backgrounds of victims and suspects. The laconic Stone with his uncertain relationship with Jenn, his struggle with alcohol and his visits to a therapist presents a striking contrast to Parker's primary hero, Spenser. But much of the dialogue is interchangeable: witty, flirtatious, droll and sexually charged. The outcome manages to be both surprising and depressing. Stone is a work in progress whose following is likely to increase as he continues to grow.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The body of an unidentified woman is found in a cove off the village of Paradise, Massachusetts, during the annual Race Week for sailing vessels. This is a particularly bad time for an unidentified body to surface, since the tiny populace is swollen with thousands of boat enthusiasts. Former LAPD cop and current Paradise police chief Jesse Stone, appearing in the Stone series' fifth entry, begins his investigation by inquiring if any boat-rental agencies have any boats missing. One rental owner comes forward, providing a driver's license of a Florida woman who never brought her boat back. After this promising lead, the case morphs from forensic identification into a disturbing morality play, as Stone digs deeper and deeper into the victim's past. This is a case that would intrigue Stone's private-eye counterpart, Spenser (who appears in a tantalizing cameo here). Parker is dead-on here when it comes to police procedure and plotting, as the seemingly simple case eddies into all kinds of ugly complications, and the story swirls from whodunit into an absorbing whydunit. On the down side, Parker's signature smart-ass dialogue is beginning to sound stale, even weak; why must all his characters talk in the same tough-guy way, heavy on the sexual innuendo? Similarly tired is the cutesy relationship between Stone and his ex-wife (punctuated by other women throwing themselves at him), which draws heavily on Spenser's relationship with Susan Silverman. Shortcomings aside, though, Parker's setting and plotting are enough to make most readers forgive the unrelenting Guy Noir style. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
As usual, there is unusual police work to be done. Paradise is filled with yachting enthusiasts for the annual Race Week event, which has grown far beyond its original seven-day schedule. During the festivities, the body of a woman washes up on shore. Jesse and his team establish that she is from Miami and must have arrived on one of the yachts, but no one will admit to knowing her. The investigation proceeds through—no kidding—sex, lies, and videotape. We learn far more than we like about the yachting set, their crew, and their families. Jesse also makes the acquaintance of a very capable fellow officer in Florida.
It’s another solid read. If you like the characters and the formula, you will not be disappointed. Jesse does seem to be making progress on his personal issues. But it is slow progress. This is realistic, if unsatisfying.
When the partially decomposed body (a "floater," in cop talk) of a woman washes up on the shores of Paradise during the raucous Race Week -- an almost monthlong celebration where thousands of tourists "drink and eat and fornicate" -- police chief Stone is faced with a laundry list of hedonistic suspects. The woman turns out to be Florence Horvath, a blonde divorcée from Fort Lauderdale with a penchant for rich yacht owners and no-holds-barred sexual aerobics. At first, Stone's primary "person of interest" is Harrison Darnell, a sleazy yacht owner from Florida who happens to be in Paradise for Race Week; but as he finds out more about the dead woman's background -- especially insights garnered from her younger twin sisters, Corliss and Claudia, giggling sybarites with the combined intelligence of "a mud puddle" -- Stone begins to piece together an incredible and extremely disturbing scenario…
This fifth installment of Parker's Jesse Stone saga (Night Passage, Trouble in Paradise, et al.) is one of his most breakneck novels to date; the nitromethane-fueled pacing of Sea Change will leave readers breathless -- as will the book's unanticipated ending. I also recommend Giorgio Kostantinos-masterpiece thriller' The Quest '.
Stone makes for a great anti-hero. The mystery plot is balanced by Stones personal struggles, that gives the story a realistic edge. The writing is crisp and the dialog snappy yet believable. I also liked the fact that all of the action and plot devices seemed reasonable and probable, something lacking in much of this genre. Though over 300 pages it is a quick read. I now look forward to going back and reading Parker's other novels. I don't normally recommend other authors, but if you like realistic mystery/thrillers check out "Tourist in the Yucatan." another good thriller with that realistic edge.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Stone makes for a great anti-hero. The mystery plot is balanced by Stones personal struggles, that gives the story a realistic edge. The writing is crisp and the dialog snappy yet believable. I also liked the fact that all of the action and plot devices seemed reasonable and probable, something lacking in much of this genre. Though over 300 pages it is a quick read. I now look forward to going back and reading Parker's other novels.
The redoubtable Robert B. Parker gives us tons of detailed police procedure and forensic investigation, which is just the kickoff, then he takes Jesse down the lurid rabbit-hole to a surprising climax in a wide ranging investigation. Snappy dialogue and intriguing, disturbing characters and situations abound. In some places it was like I wanted to cover my eyes and peek through the parted fingers: we shouldn't look but can't look away. Do people really live like that? Caution: there are two disturbing scenes conjured up by Mr Parker. An amazing read by one of our most talented mystery writers. Five Big Stars!!!
(Note: Eminently readable book with short three to five page chapters that are sparely written, but chock full of information on the page and between the lines. A fascinating, engrossing approach to writing.)
In Sea Change, Jesse Stone has to solve the murder of an attractive, middle-aged woman who was found floating in the harbor of Paradise. The victim, Florence Horvath, turns out to be an out-of-towner from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Jesse will have to turn to Detective Kelly Cruz of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department for help on this one. While both of them work the case from their respective ends of the country, Jesse discovers that the victim may have come to Paradise for its annual Race Week with boaters arriving from all over the eastern seaboard to participate in and to watch the big racing event. This leads to the discovery of an amateur sex ring amongst some of the boaters, involving female teenagers from Paradise. As Jesse investigates the murder case, he must also deal with his battle to remain sober and with his ex-wife, Jenny, being back in his life once again and what that means to him emotionally. Before the book ends and the case is solved, Jesse's going to learn a lot about himself, his love for Jenny, and how people can treat others as inanimate objects for their own sexual gratification. It's not easy being a flawed hero, but Jesse does the best he can one day at a time.
Like the other novels by Robert Parker, Sea Change is a quick read. I picked it up and was finished in just a few hours. I consider that a compliment to Mr. Parker's craftsmanship as a writer. I have a number of novels on my shelf that I had to put down after only thirty pages because of outright boredom with the story line. I've never had that problem with anything Mr. Parker has written. His books are always pure fun to read with realistic dialogue that brings a true smile to one's face, characters that eventually become close friends to the reader, and a sense of style that few other writers are able to emulate. Sea Change is no different. It takes the character of Jesse Stone one step further in his life with a clearer understanding of what it means to be a human being and how to insure that justice for those who've been harmed by others is finally achieved. A very, very good read!
I have been a Robert Parker fan for years and always look forward to a new book by him - whether it is another novel in my long time favorite series, Spenser, or more recently a story in the series which alternately feature Jesses Stone and Sunny Randall. Unfortunately, this new entry in the Jesse Stone series, while enjoyable and in many a typical showcase for his tough guy characters and recent themes, is not up to his usual standards and may not appeal to as broad a group of readers as his stories usually do.
Among the many positive aspects of this novel are the following:
first, the typical concise dialog and witty insights and asides which characterize Parker's work are liberally sprinkled throughout the story;
second, Jessie's interactions with the two police women working with him on the case (his associate Molly and Ft. Lauderdale Detective Kelly Cruz) and the development of their characters added both depth and a positive emotional cast to this depressing tale;
third, the fact that Healy played a significant if minor role and that we learned more about his personal life than in the Spenser series was a definite bonus;
fourth, despite some flaws this was a very good police procedural;
fifth, it is an extremely fast and easy read, and does include a few cameoappearances by Rita Fiore as well; and
sixth and last, the interaction of Jessie and his ex-wife Jenn and the progress in their relationship was reminiscent of the Spenser series when Susan and Spenser were attempting to overcome the problems in their relationship (but which of course had much different origins) and the introspection and self analysis through which they had to proceed.
The following elements, however, weighed on the negative side;
first, the depressing nature of the crime itself and the meaningless lives of quiet desperation led by all the "emotional automatons" involved in Jesse's investigation (the case is a downer for everyone who becomes involved);
second, the overtly sexual nature of the case was not offset by any hint at all of love, passion, romance or other elements which would have added some meaning to the lives of the participants as well as interest for the reader;
third, there several loose threads that are never tied up but more importantly there are a few instances of totally inconsistent facts uncovered during various phases of the investigation which were elements apparently introduced to aid the storyline at the time but were totally contradicted later in the investigation. Unfortunately, I can't discuss details without providing spoilers. (Parker does not reread or proof his work, and thus depends on his editor to correct such mistakes - either through sloppiness or under the pressure of his very tight publishing schedule these were overlooked.) While understandable, I do not think such distractions should be excused in the case of a major author and a top tier publishing house - particularly since this is not the first time that editing mistakes have occurred in his recent work.
In conclusion, if you are a Robert Parker fan, you will recognize his trademark style and several characters in this story. And if you enjoy stories of meaningless sex and voyeurism spiced up by murder and a few other crimes, then this is an adequate entry in that category. This is not just my opinion, Jesse himself states to Molly when she refers to the "victims" in a moment of pity that these are just "depraved, stupid, careless, amoral people". The aspect of the story which made the book worthwhile for me and kept me willing to wade through the depressing scenes was the fact that even more so than usual in Parker's books this was only nominally a murder investigation. In effect, that aspect of the story only provided the backdrop for the reader's ability to participate in Jesse's developing self awareness regarding the fact that the inherent problems in his previous relationship with Jenn revolved around his issues of control and how to deal with his tendency to "objectivize" her. So we see him back in his therapy sessions with Dix, gaining insights from his conversations with Molly and sharing them with Jenn, and realizing that he is as much a compulsive drinker of Coke as he used to be of alcohol when he marvels at Healy's ability to nurse a single beer. Thus, my rating is meant to convey that while I felt that the elements which I enjoyed certainly made this better than a three star novel, I couldn't justify four stars given its flaws. Read it - just don't expect the unalloyed enjoyment that often results from this author's efforts
The major problem of this book is the plot. Much of this book is devoted to a sex club run by two fifty-something men, and the vapid young women (often teenagers) who are drawn into it. We have one lurid scene after another detailing the sexual escapades of these people, which are usually caught on tape.
This sounds potentially interesting, but Parker overdoes it. After a while, the endless sex scenes (and Parker's moralizing about them) grow tiresome and depressing. It doesn't help that nearly all of the young girls in this novel are cartoonish, lolita-type characters who seem willing to sleep with anybody. If the characters were more three-dimensional, I would have cared more deeply about the outcome of the book.
SEA CHANGE is also very short (under 50,000 words) and can be read in a few hours. Like a lot of readers, I've noticed a lot of editing errors in this book. A real embarassment for Putnam -- don't their star writers deserve better?
In short, this book is decently written and has great dialogue, but it's hurt by a shaky plot. If you've never read Parker before, I would recommend an earlier Jesse Stone novel, STONE COLD, or one of the early Spenser novels, which are superb.