Parker’s second-string hero, police chief Jesse Stone (High Profile, 2007, etc.), moves deeper into Spenser territory, for better or worse, when he tangos with an adversary-turned-ally who’s as tough and laconic as he is.
Ten years ago, a violent, determined gang of crooks cut off Stiles Island from the rest of Paradise, Mass., took the residents hostage, killed some of them and robbed the rest. Now, as if he’s been waiting for the statute of limitations to expire, Wilson Cromartie, last seen speeding off with millions of dollars, has returned to the scene of the crime. He hasn’t come to gloat, he assures Jesse in a courtesy call, but to find someone. Not that it matters, because none of Crow’s earlier victims, Jesse quickly ascertains, is willing to testify against him on the chance of linking him to a capital crime. Instead, Jesse plans to keep an eye on Crow, who claims to be an Apache warrior, and see what happens. What happens is that the former hit man rapidly tracks down Amber Francisco, 14, at the request of her father, a moneyed South Florida racketeer. Though the girl, a potty-mouthed Lolita whose sex partners include gangbanger Esteban Carty and his comrades in the Horn Street Boys, is no prize, Louis Francisco wants her back and her mother dead. But Apache warriors have their standards, and Crow, who’s already shot one of the Horn Street contingent, refuses to kill any women; as subsequent events demonstrate, he’d much rather sleep with them. So Francisco gets on the phone and hires the surviving Horn Street Boys to kill mom and return his daughter, and Crow quixotically decides to join forces with Jesse to protect Amber.
Parker at his worst. As the body count rises among competing factions, Jesse and Crow take turns exchanging Zenlike aphorisms to cover their lack of motivation for behaving like a pair of loose cannons.