Blind Spot, a Robert
B. Parker novel, currently written by Reed Farrel Coleman
is a spell binding mystery. Coleman, who has been commissioned
for the next three novels, after Parker’s death in 2010,
is now authoring the Jesse Stone series. Having never read
Parker it is impossible to comment on how much Blind Spot
followed Parker’s works. However, this latest novel
is very fast-paced, exciting, interesting, and can stand on
its own merits.
With many of the top-notch mystery/thriller authors having
passed away, the recent trend is to hire replacement authors.
For fans of Flynn, Clancy, and Parker these new installments
allow for the characters to continue to live on in the fictional
world. Having set the bar high with great character development
writers like Coleman successfully faced the challenge. He
skillfully keeps to what Parker was known for, his format
of short chapters, character’s personality, and snappy
banter among the characters.
Coleman commented, “When I was first offered this gig
it was for a one-book deal. That happened after I did a fifty-page
audition for the estate. I then had to sit down and discuss
the plot with the editor. By the time I finished writing Blind
Spot I had a four-book contract. I guessed I pleased
who I had to please. I tried really hard to be true to the
nature of the characters as set forth by Bob Parker. Fortunately,
I had previously read several of the novels in the Jesse Stone
series. After being chosen I re-read many of these novels
to get a sense of the tone. With any series there is discovery,
editing, figuring stuff out, putting new stuff in, while all
the time creating a world. The pressure comes from knowing
that there are millions of fans out there with expectations
of what should be in a Jesse Stone novel. I hope I wrote the
best book I could while following Parker’s form although
not necessarily his style. Parker had laid out the groundwork
for me since he masterfully built Jesse Stone in three dimensions.
Having written several of my own series characters I understood
the mechanics and the pitfalls of a long story arc. I came
to the challenge with a great deal of respect for Mr. Parker
and a love for the character Jesse Stone.”
Jesse Stone, the Police Chief of a small town in Massachusetts,
is considered a very complicated figure with the overriding
theme of regret affecting his life. This includes being one
step away from becoming the starting shortstop for the Los
Angeles Dodgers to being estranged from the love of his life.
Coleman also powerfully delves into Stone’s drinking
problem and his struggles to not let it overtake his life.
Baseball plays into the story through the fact that Jesse
had his dream shattered. Coleman believes, “It is having
something you really want, come close, and then something
happens to shatter that dream. I also wanted to make baseball
allegorical for something. I hope the readers see the simile
with the quote, ‘Baseball was a game of subtleties and
opposites. At bat, the greatest players failed seventy percent
of the time. In the field, if you were anything short of near
perfection, you were considered a failure. Homicide investigation
could be like that too, like fielding.’ A great homicide
investigator must be like a fielder, not a hitter. If you
want to stick around as a detective you better be more successful
than one-third of the time.”
Besides utilizing the characters created by Parker, Coleman
introduced some of his own. Dee, the FBI agent who matches
Stone step for step is written as independent, sexy, tough,
smart, and loyal. Kayla, is Jesse’s former girlfriend
who was also once in love with him, and is now going through
a mid-life crisis as she questions past decisions in her life.
With the backstory on Jesse and these new characters, Coleman
writes a potent crime story that has Stone personally connected
to the murders. After being invited to a baseball reunion
by a former minor league teammate, Vic Prado, who happens
to be married to Kayla, Jesse is informed about a young girl’s
murder in his small town of Paradise. Through the investigative
process it becomes clear that Prado is connected to the murder.
It is up to Jesse and his squadron to find the killer and
bring justice to those killed.
The author gave a heads up about his next books. “I
am writing a new series that should be out next summer. The
main character is a retired Suffolk County Long Island cop,
Gus, who is very satisfied with his life. But when a family
tragedy strikes, his world explodes and his life is thrown
into disarray. The first novel, Where It Hurts, tells the
story of his re-emergence and how he helps an ex-con find
the people who murdered his son. It is through solving the
case that Gus finds some unexpected answers about himself,
the nature of tragedy, and gaining control.
The next Jesse Stone book will be out next fall and is called
The Devil Wins. The plot involves an old crime that
happened in Paradise before Jesse was police chief. It is
a story of a crime that happens when Molly was a teenager.
The book will focus on Molly who is a tough Irish Catholic
mom and a very good cop, no matter what locale she works in.
She has good cop instincts and sees the world for what it
is as she tells it like it is. Her relationship with Jesse
is complex since it can be considered either one of friendship,
just employee and boss, or will it turn into something beyond
Coleman hopes to keep the themes of all the Parker books as
payback, redemption, and regrets. Although Coleman embraced
the Stone character he did not imitate Parker’s writing
style. Instead, through his detailed characters and settings
he brought life back into this series and into the Jesse Stone
character. Fans and new comers alike will get hooked on Blind
Spot, and should look forward to the next Jesse Stone
book by Reed Coleman.
Reviews of other titles in this series
Spot #13 (Reed F Coleman)