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Sea Changeby Robert B. Parker
Synopses & Reviews
Paradise, Massachusetts, police chief Jesse Stone faces the case of his career in the newest novel in the bestselling series.
When a woman's partially decomposed body washes ashore in Paradise, Massachusetts, police chief Jesse Stone is forced into a case far more difficult than it initially appears. Identifying the woman is just the first step in what proves to be an emotionally charged investigation. Florence Horvath was an attractive, recently divorced heiress from Florida; she also had a penchant for steamy sex and was an enthusiastic participant in a video depicting the same. Somehow the combination of her past and present got her killed, but no one is talking-not the crew of the Lady Jane, the Fort Lauderdale yacht moored in Paradise Harbor; not her very blond, very tan twin sisters, Corliss and Claudia; and not her curiously affectless parents, living out a sterile retirement in a Miami high rise. But someone-Jesse-has to speak for the dead, even if it puts him in harm's way.
"Filled with tawdry sexual shenanigans, bestseller Parker's fifth Jesse Stone novel (after 2003's Stone Cold) finds the former L.A. cop, now the police chief of Paradise, Mass., tentatively reunited with his ex-wife, Jenn, and approaching a year since his last drink. The murder of a woman aboard a sailboat leads Stone into a world of wealth and depravity centered on a couple of yacht owners from Florida and their crowd. Drugs, pornography, rape and underage sex provide a degrading framework for the murder investigation. Stone gets a valuable assist from Kelly Cruz, a Fort Lauderdale cop, as he traces the backgrounds of victims and suspects. The laconic Stone with his uncertain relationship with Jenn, his struggle with alcohol and his visits to a therapist presents a striking contrast to Parker's primary hero, Spenser. But much of the dialogue is interchangeable: witty, flirtatious, droll and sexually charged. The outcome manages to be both surprising and depressing. Stone is a work in progress whose following is likely to increase as he continues to grow. Author tour. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Robert B. Parker will turn 74 this year, and among the elder statesmen of American crime writing, his only equals are Elmore Leonard and James Lee Burke. His Spenser novels have been enduringly popular and endlessly adapted for TV. Parker, who wrote his doctoral thesis on the novels of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald is perhaps most notable for the intellectual sheen he has brought... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) to the genre. Spenser is a prodigious reader who often quotes great poets (Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare and Wallace Stevens are favorites) and tosses off obscure literary references. Indeed, he was named for Edmund Spenser, the poet of the English Renaissance whose 'Faerie Queene' celebrated the knightly virtues that the detective supposedly embodies. Spenser also popularized a new sensitivity in crime fiction. The early private eyes were mostly Neanderthals toward women, and Spenser's long romance with brainy Susan Silverman was one of the genre's first examples of the tough-guy hero having a complicated relationship with a woman he accepted as an equal. Spenser's close bond with the black hit man Hawk was another milestone. Parker published the first of his 32 Spenser novels in 1973, and the first four are widely considered his best, but his later, more uneven output has only increased his popularity. Younger writers such as George Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane — whose work, I would say, has surpassed Parker's — speak of him with respect and view him as a link between the Hammett-Chandler generation and their own. In addition to the Spenser novels, Parker has written 20 other books, including two additional series and 11 stand-alones. In 1997, he began a series about Jesse Stone, a Los Angeles detective whose problems with whiskey and women led him to start a new life as police chief in the coastal town of Paradise, Mass. 'Sea Change' is the fifth Stone novel, and it must be called minor Parker. The craftsmanship is there, in the crisp scenes and sharp dialogue, but the novel is crippled by the unsubtle way Parker contrasts his high-minded hero and his rich, decadent, one-dimensional antagonists. Stone, despite his history of drunkenness and womanizing, has been sober for nearly a year when the book begins and has reconciled with his sexy ex-wife, Jenn. Their separation, like those of Spenser and Silverman, seems to reflect past separations by Parker and his wife, Joan Parker, who have been married 50 years now. Stone is first seen confronting a drunk, 300-pound professional football player who is terrorizing a bar. He uses his nightstick to whack the monster in a spot where even 300-pound athletes are vulnerable and soon has the cuffs on him. The scene has no purpose except to prove that Stone is one fearless dude. Parker also makes it clear that the forty-something Stone is a hunk and that his and Jenn's relationship involves great sex. But they're in love, too — he's trying hard to be a sensitive, new age guy, which puts him in sharp contrast to the novel's villains: piggish plutocrats who are deep into group sex (with underage girls when possible) and, in one case, incest. The body of a woman washes up in Paradise. She proves to be a Florida heiress. Soon a homemade video surfaces in which she's romping with two men. The novel features a good many of these sex videos, which Stone and his cops watch intently and always pronounce boring. The investigation leads to two yachts, both anchored in the Paradise harbor for the annual races and owned by rich creeps from Florida. The dead woman's younger sisters, the 20-year-old twins Corliss and Claudia Plum, turn up. They are 'very slightly dressed' with 'very deep cleavage' and they giggle a lot. Their 'combined intelligence is about that of a mud puddle,' and they, too, are fond of sex with cameras rolling. We even meet Mom and Pop Plum, who are in denial about their daughters and drowning in a sea of cocktails. In time the newly sober, newly monogamous police chief gets the goods on the drunken, amoral rich folk, but it's hard to care. The way Parker has stacked the deck in favor of his hero is cartoonish. Parker is a far better writer than James Patterson or Patricia Cornwell, but 'Sea Change' reminded me of Patterson's 'The Beach House,' which also crusaded against the sex-crazed rich, and of Cornwell's 'Trace,' in which her heroine's magnificence is contrasted with the mediocrity of the rest of the human race. As far back as 1980, a reviewer said of an early Spenser novel, 'Mr. Parker has fallen in love with his hero.' He seems to have a crush on Jesse Stone, too." Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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After the death of a Florida heiress, Paradise, Massachusetts, police chief Jesse Stone faces the case of his career in the newest novel of Parker's bestselling series.
About the Author
Robert B. Parker is the author of more than fifty books, including the bestsellers Appaloosa and Cold Service.
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