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Robert B. Parker's Fool's Paradise: A Jesse Stone Novel

Review

Robert B. Parker's Fool's Paradise: A Jesse Stone Novel

The concept of assigning veteran author Mike Lupica to Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series is a no-brainer. Lupica has done an excellent job of continuing Parker’s Sunny Randall series, and, given that he has nudged Sunny into Jesse’s orbit (and vice versa), it seems inevitable that they would gently collide under his guidance. We see the result of this --- and much more --- in FOOL’S PARADISE, Lupica’s inaugural Stone book, which features the troubled police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts, confronted by two disturbing mysteries.

This installment begins with a celebration of sorts as a historic theater in Paradise is reopened following its destruction and reconstruction. Jesse’s participation in the festivities is short-lived, however, when he is called to the scene of a homicide at a lake on the edge of the city. The victim is a stranger to everyone except Jesse, who recognizes him as a man with whom he had interacted briefly the night before at an AA meeting in a nearby town. Jesse only knows his first name; given that his body has no source of identification, the investigation begins at least a couple of steps behind the killer.

"Lupica’s style is perfect for this series.... It should be noted that [he] obviously has done yeoman’s research in what has gone before..."

Jesse gets a break when he is able to at least trace where the victim came from --- Florida --- and that he had been to the home of a local wealthy mover-and-shaker on the same evening that he died. But everyone there denies speaking to him or even knowing who he was. Someone appears to be lying, and there are several folks in that family who could be doing just that, for various reasons. Meanwhile, Jesse narrowly escapes being shot by a sniper in his own home, a rapist attacks two women --- one of whom is the assistant chief --- and another officer finds an unwelcome and potentially dangerous package on his front porch.

Jesse brings Sunny into the mix as an investigator, but the issue of whether or not they will combine business with pleasure during their off-hours soon comes to the fore. One could be forgiven for guessing correctly what the resolution of that matter will be, as well as ascertaining the motive behind the lakeside murder well before the story’s conclusion. Nevertheless, watching Jesse get there is mightily entertaining, as is the wrap-up of the attacks on him and the police force, thanks to the twists and turns that Lupica inserts along the way.

Lupica’s style is perfect for this series. It will be interesting to see if he will continue to intersect the paths of Jesse and Sunny, or if their trajectories will go in opposite directions for a bit. It should be noted that Lupica obviously has done yeoman’s research in what has gone before, which is no small task given that FOOL’S PARADISE is the 19th entry in the Stone series. It no doubt will be exciting to see where Lupica takes this venerable character from here.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on September 18, 2020

Robert B. Parker's Fool's Paradise: A Jesse Stone Novel
by Mike Lupica

  • Publication Date: September 8, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0525542086
  • ISBN-13: 9780525542087