Friday, April 8, 2016

Review of Night Passage by Robert Parker (Jove, 1997)

Having lost his wife and job as a homicide detective in the LAPD, and despite being drunk in the interview, Jesse Stone has landed the role of chief of police in Paradise, Massachusetts, near to Boston.  In fact, Stone only has the job because he’s an alcoholic and thus perceived to be easily controllable.  Paradise is run by Hasty Hathaway owner of the local bank, commander of the small town’s militia, and a believer in the rights of individuals over government.  To fund the arming of his militia so they can assert their rights, Hathaway has been laundering money for the mafia.  When the previous police chief wouldn’t do as he was told he was eased out of the way.  While Stone has a drink problem, he’s also no push over, and when a set of murders start to occur shortly after he arrives rather than turn a blind eye he’s determined to bring some law and order to Paradise.

Night Passage is the first novel in the Jesse Stone series.  Stone is a typical flawed but dedicated cop, an alcoholic who’s trying to straighten his life out after his wife cheated and then left him.  Hired as the new chief of police he finds himself in a small town that has its share of colourful characters and troubling events.  Parker has an engaging voice and the pace and plot keeps the pages turning.  However, while the story is entertaining it’s also rather fanciful as the delusions of a local kingpin and his bodybuilder enforcer are used to create a series of plot devices.  Moreover, Jesse’s relationship with his ex-wife seemed somewhat forced and the denouement is a little flat.  The result is a tale that rattles along and is enjoyable, but also felt a bit overly contrived.

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