Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Robert B. Parkers’s – Killing the Blues



Diane Bostick 


A Jesse Stone Novel 

Author: Michael Brandman 

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011. 

What do V.C. Andrew and Robert B. Parker have in common? The obvious answer is that both are well loved authors who have written for years and still have new books being published as recently as this year. The less obvious answer is that both are dead!

V.C Andrews died in 1986 with over 24 million books in print in many languages and has had over 29 books written by others, but published in her name, since her death.

Another author suffering somewhat the same fate is Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books and the children’s book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Fleming passed away in 1964 after writing 12 novels. His hero, James Bond, is still appearing in books, though not specifically under Fleming’s name. Since his death several well known authors have taken up their pens to write about the famous spy 007, with much less acclaim.

Yet another who passed away in 2010 is Dick Francis, who shortly before his death was joined by his son in coauthoring three books. Since his passing his son, Felix has written Gamble under his name alone. If you have been a fan of his father you will see he does not miss a beat. You will swear you are reading a Dick Francis book.

Robert B. Parker was by far the most prodigious writer of them all. When he died at the age of 77 in 2010 he was sitting at his desk writing yet another of his crime novels. During his lifetime he had published 39 of his Spenser novels, nine books with Jessie Stone as the protagonist, six with Sunny Randall as the leading character and thirteen others, including several westerns. Six Kill was his last completed novel and has been published since his death. That is a grand total of 68 novels. If that doesn’t define “prodigious” I don’t know what would. He was particularly known for the conversational style of his characters. Parker did not have a wordy bone in his body. Where someone else might have used ten words to make a sentence Parker managed to get the message over with three or four. I can imagine that a ten word sentence would have been construed by him as “running off at the mouth.” Where other authors are heralded for their vivid descriptions Parker managed to get the exact same imagery by writing succinctly. He left it up to the reader to fill in the blanks with their imagination, which millions of readers seemed to relish doing.

Parker’s latest book, Killing the Blues, was written by his long term collaborator Michael Brandman, who co-wrote and produced the TV movies that featured Tom Selleck as the tortured alcoholic detective Jessie Stone. His attempt to have his characters speak in the manner that Parker would have somehow doesn’t quite ring true. It is more like reading the story as it was shown in one of his movies, but that doesn’t mean it is not fun to read. It is just not quite Parker.

In Killing the Blues summer is coming to the town of Paradise and with it has come a wave of car thefts, all of them Hondas, which leads Police Chief Jesse Stone to the conclusion that there might be a chop shop at work, possibly headed by organized crime. It is his job to stop it before it ruins “the season!” The Board of Selectmen has given him firm directions to do the job he was hired for and to do it quickly.

If that were not enough to keep him busy he learns that a victim of his dark past, Rollo Nurse, has been released from prison with revenge on his mind, all aimed at Stone. He is determined to make Jesse pay for the damage that was done to him when he was “over zealous” in his capture of Nurse while under the influence of alcohol. Nurse is not above a little practice on others, both animal and human, while setting up his plan to kill Stone.

There is a little casual romance to soften the story and yet another side story when Jesse is confronted with a young lady who has been tortured by high school bullies but whose plight has been ignored by school authorities.

I would not say it is exactly Robert Parker speaking from the grave but it is a book worth a couple of hours of your time when you are looking for something to read that is entertaining. I will be looking forward to Brandman’s next attempt to bring Jesse Stone to life in the manner of Robert Parker.

Brandman has been hired by the estate to write other Stone books while another crime novelist, Ace Atkins, will be writing books involving the Spenser character. His first book will come out in 2012. It seems to me that he has an even harder pair of shoes to fill. The Spenser books are even more precise in their manner of speaking than the Stone books, which was a large part of what made them so addictive. I wish him lots of luck. I loved the Spenser series and I would certainly enjoy reading them long after the man who originally brought them to life has gone on to crime writer’s heaven.

Diane Bostick has lived on Marco Island since 1987. She was the Founder and President of Ft. Myers chapter of the Association of Children with Learning Disabilities, President of Jr. Welfare League, Ft. Myers Chapter, and served on the board of Art League of Marco Island. She is an avid reader, fly fisherwoman, tennis player and crafter. 

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