Select one of the keywords
Stranger in Paradise    by Robert B. Parker order for
Stranger in Paradise
by Robert B. Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Stranger in Paradise, seventh in an engaging series, Jesse Stone, genial chief of police in Paradise, Massachusetts, encounters a blast from his past when Apache ex-con and hit man Wilson 'Crow' Cromartie shows up in town after an absence of ten years. Though Crow was last seen 'in a speedboat dashing off with a lot of money', the statute of limitations has passed on that heist.

Crow has been dispatched by Florida crime boss Louis Francisco to kill his drunken ex-wife Fiona and bring back his promiscuous fourteen-year-old daughter Amber - who has no desire to be with her father again, but also shows little feeling for her alcoholic mother. Amber is sleeping with vicious young Latino gang leader Esteban Carty. After Crow tells Jesse that he doesn't kill women, there's a murder and a kidnapping. Then Louis Francisco comes to town, preceded by a bunch of his thugs, leading Jesse and Crow to form an unlikely alliance.

Adding humor to the situation, ex-flames of Jesse's and deputy Molly Crane find Crow extremely attractive, while Suitcase Simpson regularly sneaks off for an illicit affair - and endures Molly's teasing for it. Jesse's ex-wife Jenn is in town on an investigative assignment, relating to Latino gangs 'infiltrating Paradise'. Though Jesse, helped by psychotherapist Dix, finally figures out what Jenn does - and doesn't - need from him, it's still not clear whether they will be able to sort out their relationship. And the two of them gain transitory experience parenting a disturbed teen.

Robert Parker has long had a winning formula in his vastly popular Spenser series. He cloned Spenser into a female detective for his Sunny books, and morphed him into an alcoholic police officer for this Jesse Stone series. Despite minor differences, all these protagonists share strong core values and ambiguous relationship issues. Until now, Jesse was the only one lacking a shady helper. Just as Spenser has his Hawk, and Sunny calls on Spike, it seems that Jesse will now have Crow as his very own sidekick in wolf's clothing. I hope to see more of this principled ex-con in Paradise.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews