Coleman (The Hollow Girl, 2014, etc.) follows Michael Brandman (Robert B. Parker’s Damned If You Do, 2013, etc.) into the Jesse Stone franchise, with results that couldn’t be more different.
Before Jesse Stone was police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts, or put in his time on the LAPD, he was a shortstop with the Albuquerque Dukes, the Dodgers’ Triple A club, his dreams of big-league glory canceled when a double-play ball relayed by second baseman Vic Prado and a runner’s hard slide into second took out his shoulder for good. Now Prado, of all people, is hosting a Dukes reunion in New York that Jesse feels honor-bound to attend. He’s never been close to the golden boy who stole his girlfriend Kayla, married her, became a major league All Star and retired to become a wealthy venture capitalist, and he has no idea Prado organized this event just so he could involve Jesse in his latest venture. Although Jesse does take the time to bed Kayla’s friend Dee Harrington, Prado’s scheme to rope him in never gets off the ground because Jesse has to scuttle back home to investigate the murder of Tufts student Martina Penworth, 18, and the disappearance of her boyfriend, Benjamin Salter, the only suspect. He has no idea that the crimes in his backyard are as closely linked to Prado as his failure to make it to the majors. Meanwhile, Prado’s mobbed-up colleagues decide they overreached in kidnapping Ben Salter to bend his father, Harlan Salter IV, to their will and offer to make peace by withdrawing the demand they’d made on him. Dad has other ideas. If this all sounds more like Coleman than Parker, wait till you hear the dialogue. More densely and diffusely plotted and less punchy than its original, with characters who often speak in complete sentences.
If the Parker estate keeps pouring new wine into old bottles, who’ll be the next vintner? Mary Higgins Clark? Andrew Vachss? Janet Evanovich?