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Tom Chaney: Robert B. Parker Yet Again

Of Writers And Their Books: Robert B. Parker Yet Again. Tom says that one delightful part of Night and Day involves Parker's bringing in characters from his other series. This column first appeared 17 May 2009.
The next earlier Tom Chaney column: "A Frisky Little River"

By Tom Chaney

Robert B. Parker Yet Again

May provided a fine sunny Sunday a week or so ago. There was sunshine with a few clouds -- temperature about 70.

My friend's deck back in the knobs sported a new recliner. The feeding place for his neighbor birds was active. I don't know birds except as they differ from snakes or mice, but they had lots of blue and red and grey and black and white and yellow feathers in a variety of combination.

My friend was doing hard physical work in his yard -- an activity which I enjoy when it involves someone else working and me sitting and reading.

I reckon I got started on my job of reading about 9:00 a.m. By 1:00 p.m. I had finished the book I was re-reading as well as a quart or so of coffee.

At 1:00 I started reading a new-to-me Robert B. Parker novel. I wrote about Parker a couple of years ago when one of his Spenser novels came through the Bookstore. You may recall I praised his recipe for apple fritters which I have yet to make.

This time a customer had brought in a nigh-pristine copy of Night and Day [Putnam, 2009] -- just about as hot off the press as I ever get.

Rather than a Spenser, Night and Day is a Jesse Stone novel. For the uninitiated Jesse Stone is police chief in Paradise -- a coastal village just north of Boston. Parker introduced the Jesse Stone series in 1997.

Jesse fled California when he left the Los Angeles Police Department in disgrace over a drinking problem. He also is still involved in a tangled emotional relationship with his ex-wife Jennifer Stone whom he has as much difficulty avoiding as he does the two fingers of scotch he takes to push her aside.

Night and Day is the seventh Stone novel. It is vintage Parker. By that I mean deftly drawn and complex characters with a style that is as terse as Hemmingway, if not more so.

Stone like Spenser is not the ham-handed detective of yore. He is sensitive to the psychological feelings of victims and villains alike.

I will tell you that Night and Day involves swinging marriages -- wife swapping -- that are hard on the children, as well as a Peeping Tom who writes to Jesse describing his 'obsession.'

Jesse seems to be recovering from his own obsession with Jennifer.

One delightful part of Night and Day involves Parker's bringing in characters from his other series -- both the Spenser and the Sunny Randall books. Sunny, another detective, is having an affair with Jesse. She conspires to bring her friend Spike to Paradise to open a restaurant. One of the swinging/wife swappers and a Peeping Tom victim needs the services of a psychologist. Sunny has told Jesse about psychologist Susan Silverman who is Spenser's true love.

A reader of William Faulkner might look on the Boston-Paradise axis as Yoknapatawpha County north -- except the sentences are shorter.

The only real disappointment in the Jesse Stone books is that Jesse is nowhere near the cook that Spenser is. He eats out too much.

As the Sunday ended I moved inside to another recliner where I finished the book and dreamed of ribs.

Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Email: Tom Chaney

This story was posted on 2014-05-18 02:04:23
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