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Archive for the ‘Robert Parker’ Category

BlindSpotA murder back home in Paradise, MA forces Police Chief Jesse Stone to cut short his trip to his minor league baseball team reunion in New York, organized by his former roommate, Vic Prado. Upon arriving home, he learns that Ben Salter, son of a wealthy local investment banker is missing and his girlfriend murdered. Ben is an unlikely suspect and appears the murder was collateral damage. Assuming, therefore, Ben was kidnapped but puzzled by the lack of a ransom note, Stone believes the elder Salter knows more than he is revealing.

Oddly, Prado, his wife Kayla (Stone’s former girlfriend in his pre-injury days) and Kayla’s friend, Dee, who live in Arizona, also travel to Paradise. While Jesse and Dee fell for each other in New York, in Paradise he senses she is hiding something. Prado, the murder, Dee all disturb Stone, but he cannot pinpoint exactly why.

Mixed in with all of this is the notion, put forth by one of Stone’s old teammates, that Stone’s injury was intentionally caused by Prado to enhance his chances of making the major leagues and getting the girl.

Spenser and Jesse Stone fans will enjoy Blind Spot, this thirteenth installment, after Damned if You Do. Like Spenser, Stone is a man of honor who feels he must speak for the dead and downtrodden. Coleman’s writing mimics Parker’s with short chapters, snappy repartee and just enough action. However, I didn’t like the ending at all. It seemed hastily put together, sort of like Coleman ran out of ideas and had to end the book. It is undoubtedly a set up for another series installment.

I’ll tell you the truth. I used to love the Spenser books until they got too mushy and too philosophical and some of them veered away from Boston. I also liked the first few Jesse Stone books, but stopped reading them after a while for exactly the same reason. With Reed Farrel Coleman, who I really like as an author, I’m willing to give the series another chance. Blind Spot was an adequate reintroduction…not great, not terrible. Adequate.

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NorthOfBostonNorth of Boston is a debut novel by Elisabeth Elo. Although a few elements were a little simplistic (i.e., the escape), this is a good first novel in what I hope will be a series. What grabs you right away is the main character, Pirio Kasparov, heir to a prominent perfume company, who is cynical, caring, tough yet sensitive, rebellious.

Pirio decides to do her friend Ned Rizzo a favor and help out on his lobster boat one Saturday. It’s a dark, foggy day. You can barely see from one end of the boat to the other. All of the sudden a ship is looming, not in the distance, but close by. It literally cuts the tiny lobster boat in half. In the seconds before impact, Ned tells Pirio to jump, thereby saving her life and losing his.

Everyone initially seems to think it was an accident. But as events begin to play out, it looks more and more like a deliberate act.

Elo combines an action packed, smartly written story with memorable characters, Pirio, Parnell, a journalist, Thomasina who was Pirio’s roommate and best friend starting in boarding school, and Noah, Thomasina’s ten year old son by Ned. Every character, including the ancillary ones, such as Milosa, Pirio’s father and Maureen, Milosa’s wife are important, given depth and personality.

Elo’s subject, illegal whaling, is something new for mystery buffs. The secondary subplot, perfuming, is also a new aspect to mysteries and Pirio’s enhanced olfactory senses come in handy in catching a killer.

Elo’s got stiff competition in the Boston based mystery genre: Robert Parker, Dennis Lehane, Linda Barnes, Jeremiah Healy. But she holds her own quite nicely.

I’ll admit that I skimmed a page or two when I wanted to move ahead and skipped a page or two related to killing whales or beating up Pirio (my sensitive nature couldn’t handle it), but on the whole, Pirio Kasparov and Parnell could develop into a really good mystery series. Give this one a try.

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LongGoodbyeI told Susan the other day that I liked Dashiell Hammett as a writer better than Raymond Chandler. But that was before I read The Long Goodbye. Yikes, was that good! Unlike the Maltese Falcon by Hammett which has three film versions which I wanted to watch, The Long Goodbye has two, one with DIck Powell and one with Elliot Gould as Marlowe. Neither actor is Marlowe, as far as I’m concerned, so no watching the movie for me. But that’s way off topic.

I really don’t want to go into the plot too much. It’s much better if you read it cold. But Marlowe, a ‘cheapie’ according to one gangster is hobnobbing with the rich set and of course gets into trouble, beaten up once or twice, etc. It also shows Marlowe’s ‘romantic’, ‘justice for all’ side. Once Marlowe is on your side, you’ve got a true friend.

There are so many passages I want to quote. Every page has one. Unlike modern authors’ descriptions of people (designer label, etc.) Chandler has a knack. So I’ll quote from the first page. “There was a girl beside him. Her hair was a lovely shade of dark red and she had a distant smile on her lips and over her shoulders she had a blue mink that almost made the Rolls-Royce look like just another automobile. It didn’t quite. Nothing can.” What writing!!!!!

Chandler seemed to use the book as an oratory on the ills of the world from crime to big business to dishonest politicians to drugs. It’s funny how nothing has changed since 1953.

As I’ve continued reading pulp mysteries (1953 was towards the end of the pulps), I more and more realize that there are no more ‘hard-boiled dicks’. They died with Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe and some of the other pulp detectives. Connelly’s Harry Bosch and Parker’s Spenser and McBain’s Steve Carella may aspire to such status but the writing style and thus the heroes have gone by the wayside. Quite the shame. But, hey, I haven’t exhausted the pulp genre and I understand that The Mysterious Bookshop will be issuing some reprints and there’s an unreleased Hammett book (The Hunter and Other Stories) coming out in the Fall. So, I’ll still have plenty to read.

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