Suspense

“Stone Cold” by Robert B. Parker

Book Cover - Stone Cold

 

Robert B. Parker was the author of more than fifty books and regrettably, I did not pick up a single one until Jesse Stone (the police chief in Parker’s nine book Stone series) appeared in the form of Tom Selleck in a movie of the week titled, "Stone Cold." My bad.

 

In both book and movie, Stone, formerly an L.A. cop, is now the police chief of Paradise, a seaside Massachusetts town. He has baggage that many readers have sympathized with over the years: failed marriage, complicated relationship with the ex-wife, issues with drinking, and an inability to escape from himself in a town where everybody knows your name.

 

And, in this town, some nasty crimes are taking place…not only a spree of seemingly random murders, but also a teenage rape. Stone’s handling of both cases is intensely personal; he wants to understand the suspects, but also needs to help and avenge the victims. He sometimes steps outside the law to do that when the law doesn’t quite deliver the justice deserved.

 

Luckily for Parker fans, the TV movie script does not stray far from the crisp dialogue that characterizes the book. Stone is a man of few words until it’s necessary to expand his generally monosyllabic responses. His thoughts, however, are deeper and richer, and the feeling that Selleck expresses by a glance or a frown on the small screen, Parker describes in full measure on the printed page.

 

There is a hint at discord with the town council, but in “Stone Cold,” it’s not overplayed.  The council members want information about ongoing cases, but Stone doesn’t feel it necessary to share and the scene is set for more problems in future books. Crime waves make people fearful about living normal lives and random killings are even more frightening, so it would be normal for a mayor and council to be actively concerned and want to reassure the townsfolk that it’s safe to go out at night. It’s just that Stone knows better than to let the council control the department decisions.

 

An easy connection exists between Stone, Molly, and Suit, the local law enforcement team. They protect each other and play the role of a family that Stone doesn’t have. To get through some of the deeper issues, he sees a shrink by the name of Dix, who at times is also a sounding board when Stone wants a psychological profile done of a suspect. The interplay of the principal characters is so realistically portrayed that while “Stone Cold” is a stand-alone book, it would be interesting to go back to the beginning of the series to see how these relationships began and subsequently developed.

 

Sadly, Robert B. Parker passed away in 2010 at the age of 77, discovered by his wife at his desk, having been in the midst of writing a novel. In addition to the seven TV movies inspired by the Stone series, there was a weekly TV show, “Spenser for Hire,” based on the character of the same name in other Parker books. The Parker estate has decided to continue the hugely successful work of the ‘dean of American crime fiction’ with new Stone and Spenser books written by people who worked closely with him in TV and film.

 

Visit www.robertbparker.net to learn more about the man, his books, and his legacy.

 

 

 

“Scarpetta” by Patricia Cornwell

Book Cover - Scarpetta

Kay Scarpetta is a celebrated forensic pathologist who has taken an assignment in NYC. Her resume includes solving unusually difficult cases by painstaking attention to detail and determined exploration of every possibility. This time her patient, Oscar Bane, isn’t dead. And, he has demanded her world-renowned expertise and integrity be used to exonerate him. The case gets more bizarre with each fingernail clipped, each bruise examined. Oscar Bane has been injured during the course of the murder of his girlfriend, which he swears he did not commit.

 

Patricia Cornwell reinvented the forensic thriller genre over twenty years ago and during the intervening time has earned the Edgar, Creasey, Gold Dagger, Anthony, McCavity, Sherlock and Galaxy British Crime Thriller of the Year Awards. In each book, the reader is privy to the grisly reality of autopsies, the intimate invasion of the body in order to uncover how the victim died, as well as clues to the identity of the killer. Those twenty years have generated many technological advances in forensic science and as each is unveiled in real-life, Cornwell incorporates them into Scarpetta’s well-equipped labs.

 

The anchoring story in “Scarpetta” addresses the invasive power of the internet. Lucy, a computer phenom who is fiercely protective of her aunt, zeroes in on people who have been slandering Scarpetta online with sleazy photos and ridiculous articles. Cornwell’s message is that we are all vulnerable to the baseless smear campaigns that exist on some sites only to snag more readers and keep them hooked.

 

“Scarpetta” (#16 in the strand) is sometimes darkly disturbing, because the dialogue is so matter of fact, so real. It often seemed as if I was eavesdropping, listening in on private, painful conversations between Scarpetta, her niece, Lucy, her forensic psychologist husband, Benton Wesley, and the investigator and former friend, Pete Marino. No matter the existing murderous storyline, their complex interactions have evolved in true-life fashion during the twenty books in the Scarpetta series.

 

There are well-developed, sometimes creepy, supporting characters, mature subjects, surprising plot twists and turns, and plenty to satisfy Cornwell fans.

 

For more information about Patricia Cornwell, her books and other series, visit www.patriciacornwell.com  The site is interactive, with something to find on every page.

 

 

“The Reincarnationist” by M.J. Rose

 

"The Reincarnationist"

by M.J. Rose

 

A blinding flash from an explosion sends photojournalist Josh Ryder back into another era and into the life he left behind, over 1600 years ago. When he recovers from his near fatal injuries, he is back in the present, but his 21st century world has changed forever.

 

“The Reincarnationist” takes the reader on a quest to get to the root of Josh’s desperately disturbing images, a quest that uncovers a forbidden love in the time of ancient Rome and secrets that could change how the past merges with the present. Secrets for which people are willing to kill, no matter what the century.

 

Meticulously researched, “The Reincarnationist” delivers. Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, you will be intrigued by the plotting, the characters and the flashbacks between the centuries. And, you will completely believe that love has the power to reach across the ages to bring answers to the future that must be revealed.

 

I have a moviegoer’s approach when reading a work of fiction. I see the action and hear the dialogue as if I’m sitting in a movie theater and I become immersed as if I’m one of the participants. If the scenes don’t come alive for me, the author has left something on the editing floor.

 

In the case of “The Reincarnationist,” M.J. Rose has created an emotional, mental and visual canvas, a work easily transferred to the small or large screen. I hope that one day a movie producer will see the potential in this intelligent, fascinating tale. I’d love to have the DVD next to the book on my shelf.

 

"The Reincarnationist" was the first in this series. It was followed by "The Memorist," "The Hypnotist," and "The Book of Lost Fragrances," all as great as the first! Read the review of "The Book of Lost Fragrances" here.

*For more information about MJ Rose and her books, visit http://mjrose.com/content/

 

 

 

 

 

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