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High Profile    by Robert B. Parker order for
High Profile
by Robert B. Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Taciturn police chief Jesse Stone is back in a High Profile case in Paradise, Massachusetts. Once fired from the LAPD for alcoholism, he now has regular therapy - readers sit on on his conversations with his shrink, Dix - and is able to drink again in moderation. In Blue Screen, Jesse met and made fireworks with Boston PI Sunny Randall. Robert Parker has been having fun giving his series characters walk-ons in each other's books, but this was a bigger crossover. They both signed up to be 'A fool for love', though still emotionally entangled with their exes.

It's spring in Paradise as Jesse stands in the park, looking at a body hanging from a tree. It turns out to be murder not suicide, and the victim is national talk-show and media star Walton Weeks. The fact that Weeks was a big supporter of the governor increases the pressure on the investigation. Then a second body is found in the Dumpster behind Daisy Dyke's restaurant, that of a young woman named Carey who was Weeks' assistant and fiancée. The pressure increases. But none of that fazes a perennially calm (on the surface at least) Jesse. What does is a call from his promiscuous ex-wife Jenn to tell him she's been raped and is being stalked. Unable to deal with this on top of the media-ridden case, Jesse asks Sunny - of all people - for help. So Jenn meets Sunny. The PI and her gay friend Spike sign up to protect Jess, doing a little investigation on the side.

Though the puzzle is intriguing, this is a psychological mystery in which the psych is not so much in the whodunit as in the leads' personal angst. Though I enjoy the one true love premise that runs through all Parker's series, I don't really buy it, and least of all in Jesse Stone's life. Spenser's inamorata Susan seems worthy of his efforts, and Sunny's Richie is - so far - enough of an enigma for their bond to be believable. Jesse's Jenn can be just plain irritating in her cloying neediness (with apologies to the author, I have to admit that I'm kind of hoping she'll be a murder victim in one of these books!) But I will keep reading to enjoy the quirky secondaries and the wit and banter between Jesse Stone and the women in his life - from Jenn and Sunny to his engaging, happily married subordinate Molly Crane.

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