By Robert B. Parker
Thorndike Large Print (2010), 373 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - March 1, 2010
Robert B. Parker's books are a delight to read. His wit is engaging, his dialogue, although repetitious, is clever and sharp, and his characters are full of life, familiar and likable. It is a joy to read about them even if nothing happens, and how much more when there is drama and suspense, as there is here.
Jesse Stone, chief of police in the ironically-named Paradise, is confronted by a murder of a gangster's enforcer, by the killing of a crime lord, by gorgeous twin wives of two gangsters who need to solve their psychological inadequacies by dressing alike and by having sex with the same man, by angst over his unreciprocated love with his ex-wife, by his sexual attraction to Sunny Randall and by his sometime over-use of alcohol to dampen his angst.
Sunny Randall, the lovely private eye, suffering from her own inner struggles and frustrations over her own unreciprocated love with her former husband and by her long term sexual attraction to Jesse Stone, is back in Paradise attempting to save a rich couple's daughter from the clutches of a fundamentalist Christian cult. But is it a cult? And are the parents really looking out for their daughter's welfare? Will Sunny switch sides?
It is interesting to read about two very likable and very strong and intelligent figures who fight against evil, such as Stone and Randall, who are somewhat crushed by the evil of their debilitating sexual hang-ups. Parker offers no psychoanalysis of his characters, but it is entertaining to watch their actions and reactions and make up our own minds. Ironically, we read of the "split image" of the twins and also of the dual conflicting drives of Stone and Randall.
I wrote a somewhat humorous eulogy when I heard of Parker's death. I thought he, having a healthy appreciation of life and a strong sense of humor, would appreciate it. I think it is worth repeating some of it.
Robert B. Parker, the author of the Spenser and other books, died on Monday, January 18, 2010. Then, for the first time since 1949, on Tuesday, January 19, on Edgar Allan Poe's birthday, no one showed up at his grave to deposit the traditional three red roses and raise the toast to the father of mystery writing. This occurred here on earth. But in heaven, yes in heaven, it was very different.
God, who loves a good mystery, was at the gate to greet Robert, and Edgar was with him. There must have been a thousand angels lined up to the right and to the left of heaven's gate, in a spirited adoring line to get Robert's autograph.
Heaven, the angel's knew, would be a more interesting place with both Parker and Poe there. Parker, in fact, had entered heaven with one of Poe's books, for like the angels, he was looking forward to an interesting eternity.
Poe gestured to Parker and offered him a glass of cognac to celebrate Parker's arrival and to mark Poe's birthday. For, you see, it was Poe himself that came to his grave on his birthdays. He would place three roses on his grave to remember the three of his stories that he liked best. Then he would toast himself, as a good writer should, on his successes.
That's why no visitor came to Poe's grave on January 19, 2010. Poe was celebrating in heaven. So were the angels. So was God. So was Parker. And there was joy that day in heaven, "evermore."
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.