"ROBERT B. PARKER'S FOOL ME TWICE," by Michael Brandman, G.P. Putnam's Sons, $26.95, 288 pages (f)
Fans of the latest Robert B. Parker/Jesse Stone murder mystery "Fool Me Twice" will be initially happy to grab this new book, sit down and read.
It's only later that it creeps up on you. This book — while a decent read — copies the style and formula of Parker books pretty well, but it still comes in only as a close copy.
For one thing, Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone now owns a cat. Stone is and always has been a dog person, so even if he missed a step and allowed a cat to hang about, it wouldn't be sleeping on his chest at night.
Stone has had a drinking problem for years and an ongoing unhealthy obsession with his philandering ex-wife Jennifer, an aspiring actress with boundary issues.
Suddenly now, he's all better. He has ditched the compulsive drinking and the urge to call or see Jen. (Apparently, his therapy sessions are finished and over since there is no (Dr.) Dix and no Sunny Randall, the female version of himself he started to see in earlier books.)
He is still in Paradise and is still not taking any guff from the people who hired him.
He's unrepentant about arresting the rich man's daughter for nearly killing a man with her car as she talks on her cell phone and drives.
He — like Parker's Spencer and Stone in earlier books — takes in a stray in this girl and starts to work his brand of tough-love magic to change her life and her attitude about her life.
Stone has the obligatory fling that provides the romance underpinning the story about murder on the movie set.
So it's all pretty much there: the snappy dialogue, the characters Molly, Suitcase and Healy, but it rings just a little of contrivance.
There's a fair amount of nice detail about shooting a movie in a small town and there's some interesting stuff with the Native American bodyguard hired to protect the star.
So there is not really any major complaint other than the real Parker is truly gone.
While there isn't any swearing throughout, Stone does consume more than one alcoholic beverage and does have an affair. There are also general descriptions of physical abuse and of some gun violence through the mystery.
Otherwise, this is an easy book to read with short chapters, light and funny dialogue and a plotline that moves along without a lot of encumbrance.
And it'll work well as a television episode for Tom Selleck's “Jesse Stone" shows.
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