ROBERT B. PARKER'S THE BITTEREST PILL  by Reed Farrel Coleman

ROBERT B. PARKER'S THE BITTEREST PILL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The new generation of drugs comes to Paradise.

Until the day Heather Mackey took a lethal overdose of what turns out to be Fentanyl-enhanced heroin, everybody would have sworn the 17-year-old cheerleader was a logical candidate for Miss Massachusetts. Now her father, Paradise Selectman Steve Mackey, is uncharacteristically distraught; her mother, Patti Mackey, is beside herself; and even Chris Grimm, the fellow Paradise High student who sold her the fatal dose, is inconsolable. Not that anybody’s looking to console him. Soon after Police Chief Jesse Stone (Robert B. Parker’s Colorblind, 2018, etc.) notices the kid moping outside Heather’s viewing, Chris is whisked away by his supplier, Arakel Sarkassian, who ends up executing him to save him from more of the torture administered by Arakel’s sadistic underlings, who start their work convinced Chris has important information to share and end up not caring one way or the other. Jesse, who’s drifted into a casual but sweet affair with the local painter Maryglenn McCombs, follows his generally infallible instincts, which lead him to Heather’s friends and the staff of Paradise High, from new principal Virginia Wester on down. Not surprisingly, though, the scourge of opioids reaches far outside the schoolyard, and most of the victims of the bloodbath that ensues haven’t set foot in a classroom for quite a while. The most notable exception is a teacher who recruits new dealers from among the student body by seducing them—a teacher whose identity is the only big secret left for the climactic reveal, a disappointingly weightless one.

Another highly professional canter around a familiar track that’s less mysterious than just plain sad.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-399-57497-9
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2019




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