Saturday, November 19, 2011

Standing in for Robert B. Parker

The Book: Killing The Blues

The Author: Michael Brandman (for Robert B. Parker)

The Dealio: Well, as any follower of this blog knows-and many who don't- one of our all-time faves (Parker) died last year. The talented author of several diverse 'lines', his characters have been picked up and taken on by others. And, I couldn't help wondering whether this would work or not. True fans of RBP know that he, himself, completed a Phillip Marlowe mystery, and even wrote one entirely on his own- Poodle Springs. But, I must admit to feeling some...concern about whether this transfer would, um, stick. The answer is, of course, yes and no. Brandman has picked up the storyline of Jesse Stone, late of LA, now the sheriff of tiny Paradise, MA. He receives word from an old boss that a criminal with whom he had brangled - and whom he had grievously injured while under the influence- is now out of jail and out for revenge. As if Jesse doesn't have enough to deal with, he then begins to experience a series of unsettling car-thefts, one of which devolved into murder. This, as the resort town gears up for the big summer season. Then weird things begin to happen that just shouldn't in a town that depends on tourism for its livelihood. Re-assuming his best LA approach to criminal behavior, Jesse sets out to establish himself as a force for law and order to be reckoned with- as well as dealing with the blow-back from the earlier incident, for which he feels great guilt and remorse.

The Grading Session: 4.03 pengies out of 5. This was not the best Jesse Stone novel ever, nor the worst. A coupla remarks: why did Brandman feel duty-bound to turn Jesse (in the RBP books, he cohabits with an orphaned Golden Retriever) into a 'cat man'? Also-ly, I clean do not understand why Molly had to be turned from a gentle, good-natured but able-to-hold-her-own in the law enforcement biz type into a humorless and angry individual who seems determined to put Stone in his place. These two always enjoyed a great relationship. That, unfortunately, did not survive the transition. That said, I was so happy to have Jesse back that I do not consider this a deterrent to those who love the series. And, I will buy and read the next.

Lessons Learned: It is possible to make the transfer from one author's take of a beloved character to another. But there are always the distinguishing fingerprints left behind. They may be good, they may be bad. But, in this case, they just are. And I am okay with that.

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