The Barnes & Noble Review
Somber yet always inviting, the fourth novel in Parker's Jesse Stone series -- featuring a former LAPD cop drummed out for drinking who now serves as police chief in the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts -- is filled with all the wit, action, and insight we've come to expect from this proficient author.
This time out, Jesse not only continues his battle with the bottle but must also solve a case concerning a husband-and-wife team of serial killers stalking random victims for the simple thrill of it. Even off-duty, Jesse has plenty of problems, as he attempts to sort out his love life (he's got at least four revolving lovers) and to make peace with his consuming feelings for his rather insensitive ex-wife.
The smooth prose in Stone Cold is engaging and assured, emphasizing sentiment as much as hip, tough-guy violence. Parker is in excellent form here, providing keen understanding into the best and worst of the human condition, as characters struggle with their own obsessions. As in his beloved Spenser novels, Parker uses clever repartee to underscore moral conflict and the quest for righteousness.
Stone Cold demonstrates again that the bestselling author's greatest narrative skill is his ability to fully realize the nature of regret, infatuation, and love in a perilous world. Tom Piccirilli
The Washington Post
Parker adroitly manages to keep the suspense quotient high in this tale, even though readers will be pretty secure in the knowledge that Jesse (who is after all the hero of this series) is never in any real danger. While he's playing cat and mouse with the Lincolns, he also manages to exact frontier justice from a trio of high school hoodlums who've raped a teenaged girl. To boot, Jesse even makes progress here in his relationship with his ex-wife, Jenn. The body count in Stone Cold is higher than in most of Parker's other mysteries, but then so are the therapeutic breakthroughs.
The New York Times
If Spenser is the invincible knight, the timeless hero of American detective fiction, then Jesse Stone...is the flawed hero of the moment, a man whose deficiencies define his humanity.Marilyn Stasio
It's taken four novels, but finally Parker's Jesse Stone series has produced a book as good as top-drawer Spenser. This outing finds the laconic, troubled cop tackling three problems: to capture the pair of serial killers who are murdering random victims in small-town Paradise, Mass., where Stone is chief of police; to bring to justice the three high-school students who gang-raped a younger schoolmate; and to come to terms with his love of both alcohol and his ex-wife, Jenn. The serial killers, revealed early to the reader and soon enough to Stone, are a married yuppie pair who taunt Stone, whom they take as a dumb hick cop, as he collects evidence to bring them down; his pursuit of them leads them to kill someone close to him, then to target Stone himself, and eventually to an emotionally cathartic climax in Toronto, where the killers have fled. That story line serves as a fine little police procedural, but Parker is at his max here when following the rape plot, especially in scenes in which Stone, in his cool, compassionate way, tries to help the besieged victim as best he can. Meanwhile, under intense media attention and pressure from town elders for the ongoing serial killings, Stone works his way toward an understanding of the roles that booze and Jenn play in his life. Told in third-person prose that's a model of economy, with sharp action sequences, deep yet unobtrusive character exploration and none of the cuteness that can mar the Spenser novels, this is prime Parker, testament to why he was named a Grand Master at the 2002 Edgar Awards. (On sale Sept. 29) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
This is the fourth book in Parker's "Jesse Stone" series, and it is the best. As the police chief in the small town of Paradise, a fictional suburb of Boston, Jesse has been developing throughout the series, and his personality is by now well defined. Here we find Jesse battling a pair of serial killers whose victims are always random, although the modus operandi is always the same. At the start, we are left in the dark about the killers, but, in an interesting twist, halfway through the book their identities are revealed, and the story becomes a game of cat and mouse. Almost another full plot line concerns Jesse's problems with his ex-wife (whom he still loves) and complications with his girlfriends. These deepen his melancholic state, as well as his battle to stay alcohol-free. Like Spenser, Parker's most famous creation, Jesse is known for his clever repartee, but his personality is darker and more troubled. Highly recommended for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/03.]-Fred M. Gervat, Concordia Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
After waiting in Spenser's long shadow for three cases, alcoholic small-town police chief Jesse Stone (Death in Paradise, 2001, etc.) comes into his own big-time when he goes up against a husband-and-wife pair of serial killers. The genteel culprits, who use murder as foreplay, are neither mystifying nor entirely credible. What's compelling is Jesse's patience and pain as he works from one corpse to the next in little Paradise, Mass. What can he learn from the fact that each victim's been shot twice by two different .22's or from descriptions of a red Saab that was spotted at two crime scenes? And once he's satisfied himself as to the smiling perps' identities, what can he do to bring them down? These would be tough questions even if Jesse weren't already laboring under the weight of another case in which answers come faster than justice-the rape of Candace Pennington by three of her high-school classmates who threaten her with worse if she talks to anybody, and who's saddled with a mother no daughter would talk to anyway-and the eternal wait for Jenn, his newscaster ex, to fall back into his arms in between the embraces he exchanges with a local realtor, a future murder victim, and one of the rapist's attorneys. Jesse preens less than the better-known Spenser and earns his male posturing more completely through his appealing vulnerability. Good-bye, Mr. Second String: A star is born.
From the Publisher
"Prose as clear and potent as fine vodka. Parker illuminates the dark-cornered minds of sociopaths."—Entertainment Weekly
"Moves like a speeding bullet. Parker doesn't waste a word."—Orlando Sentinel
"A testament to why Parker was named a Grand Master at the 2002 Edgar Awards."—Publishers Weekly
"First rate. Parker is in roaring good form in this one."—Boston Globe
Read an Excerpt
After the murder, they made love in front of a video camera. When it was over, her mouth was bruised. He had long scratches across his back. They lay side by side on their backs, gasping for breath.
"Jesus!" he said, his voice hoarse.
"Yes," she whispered.
She moved into the compass of his left arm and rested her head against his chest. They lay silently for a while, not moving, waiting for oxygen.
"I love you," he said.
"I love you too," she said.
He put his face down against the top of her head where it lay on his chest. Her hair smelled of verbena. In time their breathing settled.
"Let's play the video," she whispered.
"Let's," he said.
The camera stood beside the bed on a tripod. He got up, took the tape from it, put it in the VCR, got back into bed, and picked up the remote from the night table. She moved back into the circle of his arm, her head back on his chest.
"Show time," he said, and clicked the remote.
"My God," she said. "Look at me."
"I love how you're looking right into the camera," he said.
They watched quietly for a little while.
"Whoa," she said. "What are you doing to me there?"
"Nothing you don't like," he said.
When the tape was over he rewound it.
"You want to watch again?" he said.
She was drawing tiny circles on his chest with her left forefinger.
He started the tape again.
"You know what I loved," she said. "I loved the range of expression on his face."
"Yes," he said, "that was great. First it's like, what the hell is this?"
"And then like, are you serious?"
"And then, omigod!"
"That's the best," she said. "The way he looked when he knew we were going to kill him. I've never seen a look like that."
"Yes," he said. "That was pretty good."
"I wish we could have made it last longer," she said.
"My bad," she said. "I got so excited. I shot too soon."
"I've been known to do that," he said.
"Well, aren't you Mr. Dirty Mouth," she said.
They both laughed.
"We'll get better at it," he said.
She was now rubbing the slow circles on his chest with her full palm, looking at the videotape.
"Ohhh," she said. "Look at me! Look at me!"
He laughed softly. She moved her hand down his stomach.
"What's happening here?" she said.
He laughed again.
"Ohh," she said. "Good news."
She turned her body hard against him and put her face up.
"Be careful," she murmured. "My mouth is sore."
They made love again while the image of their previous lovemaking moved unseen on the television screen, and the sounds of that mingled with the sounds they were making now.
--from Stone Cold: A Jesse Stone Novel by Robert B. Parker, copyright © 2003 Robert B. Parker, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.