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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Trouble in Paradise is the best Parker in some time, not so much because of story (which is not exactly unfamiliar) but because of storytelling. Parker's into a different rhythm here — pitting his new hero, police chief Jesse Stone, against ex-con Jimmy Macklin, who is planning to invade a wealthy New England community, thereby endangering not only the fortunes of the people who live there but their lives as well.
While Stone still occasionally ruminates on his drinking problem and his crushing divorce, he is a lot more active here than in his debut, Night Passage. In fact, one might argue that this is more of a straight action novel told as only Parker could tell it, with sociological asides (some of his comments on the rich would undoubtedly please F. Scott Fitzgerald), sly glimpses of human monsters (the pecking order of bad guys), and the fascinating planning that goes into pulling off a caper of this magnitude.
The cinematic intercutting works beautifully and sets up the final confrontation with a nice inevitability. And since Parker is never without some second-act surprises, there are enough plot twists in the middle to keep you slapping those pages back. Parker's got the knack, and it seems he's never going to lose it.
The rich man's community is set up well, too. Although Parker doesn't seem crazy about rich folk in general, they are sketched honestly. He resists cheap shots and parody, which a number of recent bestsellers have indulged in too readily. Yes, there are a lot of nasty rich people, but I could name you a longlistof rather nasty poor people, too.
One has the sense that Parker needed Jesse Stone not so much for his career — which is running along quite nicely, thank you — but to keep himself from suffering series-itis. When you sit at the writing machine everyday, you get tired of using the same muscles. Although one may find similarities between Spenser and Stone, the series are sufficiently different to please both reader and Parker alike. I'd forgotten, for instance, how deft his third-person can be, especially in describing action. The opening of Wilderness, for example, is extraordinary in the simple way it sets up and foreshadows everything that will follow. One sees this again in his mainstream novel All Our Yesterdays, where he uses short chapters in the way silent-film directors used fade-ups and fade-downs.
Trouble in Paradise is one of those books that both men and women will like. Stone is a more believable character (for me) than Spenser, and the people he meets (good and bad) are more familiar to me than the typical cast of a Spenser novel. I think Parker's really on to something with these Stone books. These are damned exciting books, and Stone is a memorable and likable hero.
Oh, yes — and there's a character named Suitcase Simpson. Now how can you dislike a book with a guy named Suitcase?
Ed Gorman's latest novels include Cold Blue Midnight, now available in paperback, Harlot's Moon and Black River Falls, the latter of which "proves Gorman's mastery of the pure suspense novel," says Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. ABC-TV has optioned the novel as a movie. He is also the editor of Mystery Scene Magazine, which Stephen King calls "indispensable" for mystery readers.