The Jesse Stone saga continues in a fourth book. This one follows Death in Paradise and is followed by Sea Change. Jesse seems to be coming to terms with his ex-wife Jenn, holding his own against his urge to drink, and achieving insights during his therapy sessions. He deepens his friendship with officers Suitcase Simpson and Molly Crane. They both respond to his good-natured banter and his mentoring in the fine art of fighting crime.
Jesse and his colleagues take on two cases. The first hits hard as it becomes clear that a pair of serial killers are at work in Paradise, shooting victims seemingly at random with their .22 caliber pistols. Jesse figures out who they are and begins trying to prove their guilt. These two are fascinating characters, capable, arrogant, and eerily charming. Before Jesse has gathered sufficient evidence, they begin to take a personal interest in him.
The second case emerges from the tearful disclosures of a high school girl who has been raped by three members of the football team. Jesse and his two closest officers persuade the girl to tell her story, help her deal with two very different parental reactions, and devise a way to arrest the three attackers without revealing that their victim has come forward. Jesse does what he can to help her heal and resume a normal life.
The two main plotlines are engaging and sufficiently unpredictable. It was good to see Jesse largely in control of his life as well as his work. If his ex would just leave him alone, he would be even better off. I am sure of it.
on April 16, 2004
I have to say that I am very impressed with my first Jesse Stone novel. I picked up this book after reading some favorable reviews and was not disappointed at all. Stone Cold is a brisk read that is just plain fun. The novel is a study of three story lines that each bring out unique qualities in Parker's main character, Jesse Stone. Stone investigates a series of serial murders conducted by a yuppie couple in his hometown. This plotline illustrates Stone's exceptional investigating skills and attention to detail. Concurrently, a young high school student is gang raped by three classmates. This sensitive situation shows Jesse's heart, compassion, and skill in bringing the boys to justice while protecting the victim. Lastly, Stone must deal with the varied emotions of his personal relationships as he lives with the pain of still loving his ex-wife who is still very much in his life.
I very much enjoyed Stone Cold. If I did have a complaint at all I would have to say that I wish there were a bit more development and background as to why the serial killers pursued their victims. While a general explanation is offered, I would have liked to have seen a little more.
on February 11, 2004
I like Robert Parker's way of writing, view of life and knack for weaving interesting stories about as much as anyone writing today. I am totally captivated by Spenser but find myself growing more and more fond of the Jesse Stone novels.
In this case, a couple that is entirely ruthless and gets their kicks from killing strangers has moved into Stone's small town. As police chief, Stone is faced with tracking down very smart people who have developed a method for identifying and killing people that does not require them to make any significant mistakes or leave any evidence.
The couple begins to be fascinated with the idea of killing Stone; the plot thickens.
In the middle of all this, Stone continues to long for his ex-wife and continues to date without the ability to commit. He struggles with the amount of alcohol he uses to compensate for the emptiness he feels from living without his ex-wife.
Parker has written a number of times about the power of being committed so deeply to someone that you have no choice but to live it out (most powerfully in Love and Glory). Stone Cold takes a deep step into that territory and does it while spinning a very good mystery story.
on February 5, 2004
Robert Parker has created an enigma with his character Jesse Stone. Just when you are sure that you know what Jesse will choose to do next, you are surprised.
In this novel, a pair of serial murderers is running rampant in Jesse Stone's small town. The motive is unfathomable, but then, they ARE serial killers. While Jesse and his police force track the killers, not only the why, but the who will be next question hangs densely in the air.
While the investigation proceeds, Jesse becomes more or less involved with a couple of different women, when his ex-wife enters the picture.
In the center of this novel is the third line of the story involving a young girl who claims to have been raped by some of the jocks at her school. The way Jesse handles this investigation is a wonderful new facet to this character.
The mix of emotions is nearly volatile, and as another murder occurs, you begin to wonder how will Robert PArker bring the story together. I thought the serial killers were a little vague, as characters, but still the surprising twists and turns of this author never fail to capture the readers full attention.
on November 26, 2003
When a dead body turns up with two bullets, fired from different guns, police chief Jesse Stone knows he has a problem. When a second body has the same wounds, he knows he has a pair of serial killers on his beat. But knowing about serial killers and finding them are two different things. Especially when the killers seem to plan their strikes carefully and their escapes even more carefully. Jesse's small-town police department becomes even busier when a high school girl is gang-raped by three schoolmates. Jesse has no evidence and the rapists threaten to ruin the girl's life if she tells, but Jesse intends to bring whatever justice is possible.
Jesse's professional life is busy, but his social life is packed. He can't get over his ex-wife and she certainly won't let him. And every other woman he meets, with the possible exception of one of his fellow cops, is ready to fall directly into bed with him. Jesse is willing to do the bed thing, but he makes it clear that he's waiting to resolve things with the ex-wife--and the resolution he wants is a return to their marriage. Since their relationship seems completely sick (as confirmed by their psychologists), that isn't an especially desirable thing for the reader but it is what Jesse wants.
Robert B. Parker is an excellent writer. His characterization of Jesse Stone is strong and rings true. Jesse tries to live his life by a sharply defined set of rules--love is forever, justice is important, revenge is worth having, physical violence can solve problems or at least make things feel better, and talking too much is a big mistake. Jesse's treatment of the young rape victim is sympathetic and nicely handled.
Fans of Robert B. Parker won't be surprised by the difficult relationship Jesse maintains with his ex-wife--this is a recurring theme in Parker's fiction. Jesse knows he would be better off if he could just get over Jenn but he can't. From a reader's perspective, I certainly wish he would. The woman simply isn't good for him. Rules and ethics or not, I find Jesse less sympathetic and more pathetic because of his hopeless love affair. STONE COLD is a short novel with plenty of white space. I wish that more had been devoted to the mystery and less to Jesse's miserable love life--especially since all sorts of attractive, friendly, and relatively healthy women are lining up to spend time with him.
on November 21, 2003
I have been following Jessie Stone since his creation and was delighted to see another book come out. After reading it I would be delighted if I don't see another book come out.
The book ran parallel plots which did not intersect except in time frame. A rape and a serial killer. I don't have a problem with that. I like Ed McBain's method of doing that in his 87th novels. Here is just seemed as if neither plot got fleshed out and took off. One bounced off the other until you reached the end leaving a "Thank God that is done" feeling not the satisfied feeling I expect when I close a book.
Did I care about anyone? No not even Jess who I rathered liked in previous stories and Jenn managed to really get on my nerves. Jenn was one dimensional. Jess almost made it to two dimensional and everyone else were caricatures of people. They like the plots never fleshed out. Jess is still obsessing about Jenn. [Yawn Jess hint get a life. You might be more interesting. I really don't care at this point] He's still denying his drinking. Anyone who is pouring himself a third drink and getting smashed who says "Maybe I should just give it all up and be a drunk to make the little woman happy" needs a detox asap. Even when he appears to be making progress [or regression in Jenn's case] I couldn't bring myself to care.
If he had been a friend telling me this I would have responded 'yeah right blah blah blah.' Call me when you get real. That was the problem he was never real in this book.
The serial killers were a laugh a second. I just couldn't buy this sex crazed couple killing people to get off. They looked like crazed bunny rabbits compared to the real thing. Shake Serial killers shake. Here comes the fluffy yuppie killers. I didn't buy the reasoning. I didn't buy Dix's diagnosis. I didn't buy Dix period. The rape didn't make it either. The scenes that should have moved me left me yawning. The scenes that should have been bitter were reduced to an oh yeah so sad too bad. The diagnosis of rape read like a male authors concept who doesn't understand the emotions involved or the fears. What the author thought would be the fears of the majority of women alive today was projected. why do I say this? I worked a rape hot line. I was almost insulted by what he wrote.
Don't get me wrong. I really like Parker. I like Stone. I like Spenser. I like some of his other works. This is simply a badly written disappointing book. If you feel you must read it check out your local library. I have all the other Stone books on my library shelves but on this one? I pass. It doesn't even get houseroom.
As Ms Dorothy Parker said "This is not a book to be put aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."
on November 16, 2003
STONE COLD, the fourth of Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone novels, is not a mystery. We're introduced to the villains of the piece right on page one. We don't know their names and we don't know much about them, but we know what they're doing. They are a man and woman, passionate lovers whose idea of foreplay is to commit a carefully plotted murder. The victim is randomly selected by wind and whimsy, scouted and dispatched with two simultaneously administered gunshot wounds to the chest. Either shot could be the fatal one. That's part of the thrill for them.
Stone is the police chief of the village of Paradise, an affluent Boston suburb where murders of this type are simply not supposed to happen. They are a policeman's nightmare: unpredictable and apparently related only by the methodology of the acts and the perpetrators. Stone determines the identities of the murderers soon enough, but not because he is Supercop. It's a combination of dogged police work and luck, pure and simple. The murderers are Anthony and Brianna Lincoln, independently wealthy, confident and twisted. Knowing who the murderers are and proving it are two different things, however. Stone and the murderers play an engaging, if chilling, game of cat and mouse, with Stone having only two advantages. One is that his adversaries underestimate him. The other is that, unbeknownst to the Lincolns, Stone is aware that they have marked him as their next victim.
In the meantime, Stone grapples with another matter of no small import. A local high school girl has been gang-raped by three of her fellow students who have photographed the act and threaten to distribute the pictures if she tells anyone. Stone wants to help, and does. But he finds that all he can do is not quite enough. Stone, as with many alcoholics, labors under a Messiah complex, believing that he can ultimately resolve all of the evils in the world through force of will. He cannot, though he does make a difference. It is learning to live with the distance between what is and what would have been ideal that makes STONE COLD an arresting work. And then there is Stone's personal life. He is slowly coming to grips with his alcoholism while attempting to deal with his unresolved feelings and passions for his ex-wife.
Stone has heretofore been relegated to the position of being one of Parker's "other" creations, relative to Spenser, who has been with us now for well over a quarter-century and has crossed over from books into film. Parker has been slowly developing Stone, carefully hewing him into something other than Spenser with a badge. And he has largely succeeded. Stone is confident but lacks Spenser's self-assuredness, which in some ways makes him a bit more vulnerable and perhaps more endearing than Spenser. What is most remarkable, however, is Parker's ability to not only sustain the quality of his writing but also to continue to develop his characters.
STONE COLD and Parker's 2003 Spenser novel BACK STORY are among the best works of his career. Certainly they are among the top ten, if not the top five. That Parker at this late date can continue to keep older characters fresh and interesting while developing new and different ongoing projects successfully demonstrates that it may well be impossible to overestimate Parker's place in the hierarchy of detective fiction.
If you haven't been reading the Jesse Stone novels because of what they are not, STONE COLD is the perfect place to jump on. Parker, no matter where he turns his hand, is capable of producing work that is nothing less than an absolute delight. Highly recommended.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
on November 16, 2003
Stone Cold takes Parker's usual, "If the bad guy annoys you beat the crap out of him" to a whole new level. Usually Stone, or Spenser, confronts the bad guy who has eluded justice in an alley, or behind the woodshed, goads him into taking the first swing and then beats the crap out of him. Very Mickey Spillane.
In Stone Cold four people are beat up in police stations while in police custody. Our hero, Police Chief Jesse Stone, administers two of the beatings himself while another cop watches. The recipients of the beatings are already under arrest and the evidence is airtight. Stone initiates the beatings by walking into the room where the prisoners are being held, waves them over to him and knees the guy in the groin as he approaches.
Two other beatings are conducted in a police interrogation room while Stone stands by and watches. One of the vics isn't even a suspect. But he is a jerk, which in Parker's book is enough to warrant a beating.
Rodney King and Abner Louima watch out. Jesse Stone makes house calls!
Stone Cold is clearly the best of the Jesse Stone series, and one of the finest Robert Parker books in many years. If I leave my emotional attachment to Spenser behind, Jesse Stone now surpasses Spenser as an interesting character. Mr. Parker's dialogue was never better than in this superb book.
The novel has several, nicely intertwined story lines. If you like all of the story lines, you'll think this is a great book. If you dislike any of them, you will grade Stone Cold down one star for each one that you don't care for.
If you are new to the series, I suggest that you start with Death in Paradise and work your way forward to this one.
I must admit that I love the constant allusions to Paradise Lost and other books about those who are out of touch with God's grace. In this novel, we have two villains who are very much like Milton's residents of the nether regions who have fallen from grace because of their fascination with themselves. There are also three young men who are like those whom Dante describes as being overcome by lust in the Inferno. Lastly, there are Jesse and his ex-wife Jenn who seem to be looking for something that they cannot even define, like the lost souls of those who have never known God's grace such as the barbarians in the Inferno.
The major plot line features a pair of serial killers who enjoy the feeling of power and superiority that their type of murder provides. In the process of gratifying themselves, they terrorize Paradise, and leave Jesse without two of his closest friends and colleagues. He also finds himself staring down their gun sights. The story is developed as a simple police procedural (without much progress for some time) which makes the book more complex and interesting.
The most touching plot line though is about a young woman who is raped and threatened by three insensitive bullies. Jesse tries to do the right thing, and discovers the limits of how much one person can do for another under dire circumstances.
The continuing plot line involves Jesse's troubled relationships with women, and shows him at his most confused. At the same time, his problems are better developed here than in earlier books by showing how he relates to different women in different ways and what he says to his psychiatrist about them. For those who don't enjoy psychiatry, it may get a little deep when Jenn and Jesse are sharing what their psychiatrists have had to say about their relationship.
Of primary interest for the future is that Jesse seems to start to come to grip with some of his failings, weaknesses and attitudes. He begins to show the potential to use his pain to learn and make progress.
I came away looking forward to the next book in the series.
Because the dialogue is so smooth and delicious, you'll find yourself finishing the book very rapidly. Stone Cold will hit you just like a perfect martini . . . great going down and warming afterward.
on November 6, 2003
I've been a fan of Robert B. Parker for what seems like ages and have been sorely disappointed and verbally assailing in my reviews of some of his more recent offerings. The jazz, the juice, the stuff that makes RBP, well, RBP, seemed to be gone. Where was the drama, the thick plots, the wit? My feeling was RBP was waning into literary obscurity. So, now, STONE COLD comes along. Not a Spenser novel but a Jesse Stone novel. Well, whatever RBP did to inspire himself relative to creating this storyline, he needs to stay with it. STONE COLD returns RBP to his roots, that of vehement distaste for the "bad guys," love for the hero, and some good old fashioned retribution.
For those unfamiliar with Jesse Stone, he is Spenser's career contemporary albeit his personal antithesis. Jesse is the police chief of Paradise (a community on Boston's North Shore), a functional alcholic, and milktoast in the hands of his ex-wife who is blatantly audacious and Jesse's personal nemesis. Suffice it to say that Jesse is quite human, at times, a little too much so.
A man's body has appeared on the beach, two bullet holes in his heart. There is no evidence to speak of and the investigation runs short before it begins. Shortly thereafter, another victim turns up, this time in the parking lot of the Paradise Mall. She was shot twice in the chest as she unloaded her groceries. Jesse has a bad feeling confirmed when he receives the news that the bullets in both murders came from the same gun. A serial killer.
In the meantime, in a parallel story, a local high school girl has been raped and has come to Jesse for help. What Jesse does here is pure Parker. This is what Parker's fans love.
Jesse's incredibly dysfunctional relationship with Jenn, his ex-wife, continues. Still carrying the torch for everything Jenn, Jesse finds solace in many other women "friends." His syrupy need to get Jenn back is old and you really want to slap him around and say, Wake UP!" But, this character flaw makes him human and, at times, the underdog (read: loveable).
Net, net...Parker is back in this one. He introduces the bad guys early and allows the reader to follow their plans as they play cat-and-mouse against Jesse. Consequently, the suspense in this book is evident at two levels, the murder case and whether or not Jesse is going to "make it" to the next day. The thing we love about Jesse is his compassion for the job and desire to see justice.