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Stone Cold: A Jesse Stone Novel    by Robert B. Parker order for
Stone Cold
by Robert B. Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jesse Stone is both like and unlike Parker's more popular hero, Spenser. They're equally faithful and share the same code of iron-clad integrity, but Jesse is a tad more flawed. Jesse's alcoholism lost him his LAPD job and he's now Chief of Police in Paradise, Massachusetts. Though his possessiveness, along with her insecurities, drove away his wife Jenn (now his ex), neither can live with (or without) the other.

For such a small town, Paradise has a high murder rate, and it's rising exponentially. Parker introduces readers to a husband and wife team trying their hand at serial killing. Jesse is puzzled by the seeming lack of motivation and what appears to be a random choice of victims. But he investigates slowly and steadily, drawing on all the resources available to him. And he gives equal attention to the case of a high school girl who's been gang-raped and is afraid to name her assailants (I especially enjoyed petite officer Molly's role in the case). This eventually brings Jesse together with hotshot lawyer Rita Fiore, hired to defend one of the rapists. Rita likes what she sees in Stone and doesn't hesitate to show it.

When the killers hit someone close to Jesse, it becomes very personal. His judgement is affected, and he makes a mistake. But for once, Jenn offers comfort, and asks a key question. Jesse gets his man - and wife. I enjoy Jesse Stone almost as much as Spenser, and look forward to what comes next in both his relationship with his ex and with sobriety.

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