I have said it here many times; I am a huge fan of author Robert B. Parker. The Spenser series is what got me reading for fun way back when I was in college. When Parker served up the Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall books; I was all in. Heck I even grabbed the Cole and Hitch books despite not being a fan of westerns. In short, Parker was my favorite writer and news of his passing certainly had an impact on me.
Since that time there have been a steady stream of Spenser, Cole and Hitch and Jesse Stone books that have been penned by authors selected by the Parker estate to carry on these series. I have read most of the new books and been entertained and generally happy that these characters will continue. While I am not surprised by the reaction, I really don’t get the vitriol that has been directed at the brave writers who have been asked to pick up the reins and carry on these stories.
Michael Brandman is the producer that worked with actor Tom Selleck to bring the movie adaptations of the Jesse Stone books to television so he seemed a natural choice to carry on the Stone books; the latest of which is Robert D. Parker’s Damned If You Do. Based on the reactions from fans, it’s certainly a fitting title! Here’s a newsflash…Michael Brandman is not Robert B. Parker! And quite frankly, there is nothing wrong with that! Brandman clearly knows the characters and knows the storylines from prior books and does a nice job of threading the two together.
I find the complaints about thin plotlines and how quickly this story can be knocked out more than a little disingenuous from Parker fans. Anyone who is honest would have to admit that over the years even Parker leaned a little bit heavier on the formula that he had developed for plotting his storylines; overcoming shortfalls with great characters and his ability to write great action sequences.
Brandman does a nice job of serving up just enough of the usual suspects and mixing in some new players to keep the storyline moving forward and keep things entertaining. And in the end, isn’t that what Jesse Stone, Spenser, Sunny Randall and Cole and Hitch are really all about?