Sunday, September 13, 2015

Big Shoes Filled

Robert B. Parker’s The Devil Wins – A Jesse Stone Novel – Reed Farrell Coleman (Putnam)

Not sure it was that started the publishing trend toward franchising, but has often times met with middling results. Franchising is when a beloved author or creator of a beloved character passes away and a hired gun writer is selected to pick up the reigns and either complete a partial manuscript or completely take over the character in an attempt to carry on the publishing franchise.

Such is the case with a variety of characters created by the late Robert B. Parker including Boston P.I., Spenser, the western series featuring Cole and Hitch and that of Paradise, MA police chief Jesse Stone. Parker was tapped to complete a manuscript started by the legendary Raymond Chandler, so he was an early progenitor of the form.

Many skilled practitioners have taken a swing at carrying on Parker’s timeless characters; some with greater success than others. While I have enjoyed many of these franchise outings, they all seemed to be missing a little something. Clearly then weren’t Bob Parker. With Robert B. Parker’s The Devil Wins, veteran author Reed Farrell Coleman comes closest to nailing down Parker’s Jesse Stone from beginning to end.

Once again Paradise gets rocked by a murder, but this one has ties leading straight back to this small town’s past; the discovery of a new murder victim also reveals a pair of older corpses that turn out to be two long missing and seemingly forgotten victims which shakes the town to foundation.

Coleman uses a practiced eye and a master’s skill to construct not only the crime, but to build in the backdrop of what could be Any Small Town, USA. While the cast of others have done Parker small justice, Coleman finds the right voice Jesse Stone and succeeds in making it his own. They are big shoes, properly filled.

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