After 24 Spenser titles (Small Vices, p. 90, etc.), Parker branches out with this tale of Jesse Stone, who's eased out of LAPD Homicide by his divorce-driven drinking, then hired by the sharp town fathers of Paradise, Mass., to replace Chief Tom Carson, who found out a little too much about Paradise. And there's lots to find out, because Board of Selectmen chair Hasty Hathaway--whose credentials also include heading Freedom's Horsemen, the local Aryan supremacist militia--is in bed with organized crime guys from Boston. Hasty's also in bed with Tammy Portugal (though you can hardly blame him: Mrs. Hasty is getting nasty with everybody in town but him); and when Tammy threatens to go public with their affair unless Hasty makes an honest woman of her, the stage is set for a no-holds-barred confrontation between Hasty, his crime connections (especially his fix-it man, body-builder Jo Jo Genest), his crooked cops, and Freedom's Horsemen (on one side) and taciturn loner Jesse (on the other). Longtime Spenser fans, who have been enjoying the clipped phone dialogue between Jesse and his ex, will be smacking their lips. But then, suddenly, everything's too easy. Jesse gets his drinking under control and makes key friends in Paradise. His force closes ranks behind him. The big-time mobsters get busy fighting among themselves. Jo Jo crumbles. Freedom's Horsemen implode. Don't even ask about Hasty. You can always rely on Parker for some great talk and great scenes. But you'll have to wait for later entries in this new series for a great story.