Stone Cold

Reviewed: December 12, 2007
By: Robert B. Parker
Publisher: Berkley Books
300 pages, $10.99

Police chief Jesse Stone is one of Robert B. Parker’s unhappy detectives. He is cut from a mold similar to that of the iconic Spenser, but his life has not gone well, He is good at his job but he would rather have been a baseball player. He has little trouble finding female companionship, but the relationships don’t last because, sooner or later, they all realize that Jesse is still in love with his ex-wife, Jenn, and is quite prepared to live monogamously with her and no one else if ever she manages to be able to make that commitment herself. For the other women, it’s not enough to be choice number two.

This entry in the series is unusual in a couple of ways. The first would be that Stone has a serial killer on his hands a murderous couple who are in it for the thrills. Some of the scenes of the novel are narrated from their point of view - an unusual stylistic departure for Parker - and it’s pretty clear from the outset that these people don’t view other humans as being anything other than toys for them to play with. They really don’t mind teasing the sheriff about it, being pretty certain as they are that they are brilliant and way too smart to be caught.

They aren’t, but that doesn’t mean the catching is easy, and it’s made more complicated when one of the women Jesse knows as more than a casual friend becomes one of the victims.

This one has a satisfying, but rather low key, ending. The pair are eventually arrested through solid, stolid police work rather than some dramatic denouement. In fact, they are arrested in Toronto, having made good their escape from Paradise, the small city north of Boston where Jesse is the chief of police. I don’t know anything like the scene in the Dundas Street police station ever takes place, but it probably ought to. Anthony and Brianna really did need that lesson in humility.

There is, but the way, a much more Stone-like sub-plot in this novel: a nasty little case involving a teen rape and a camera. The resolution here deals with giving a young girl her life back and it was most satisfactory.