A nice continuation of the Jesse Stone series…
I’m often not a fan of continuations of popular series after the original author passes away. But whoever is in control of the estate of Robert B Parker has done a pretty good job, IMO, of selecting authors to continue his Spenser, Jesse Stone, and Sunny Randall series. This may be because (per Wikipedia) they seem to have chosen authors who had previously been close to Parker as friends and/or collaborators. Mike Lupica fits that mold, and his second Jesse Stone continuation title, Stone’s Throw, is a fun romp that feels right at home in the series.
Lupica, who is primarily a sports journalist, but also has previously written a handful of mysteries, is a natural fit for the Jesse Stone series, given Jesse’s cut-too-short-by-injury baseball past. And in fact, Stone’s Throw opens as Jesse muses about baseball (and other things) with Sunny Randall, who then makes a quick exit west to Los Angeles, as she and Jesse take a “time-out”. But Jesse has plenty to keep him busy in Paradise, where the last prime parcel of oceanfront land in town, The Throw, is about to be sold to a developer. As might be expected, the community is bitterly divided between preserving the site and keeping Paradise’s ambiance, versus benefitting from the jobs and money that development might bring. It doesn’t help that neither the Paradise scion selling the land, nor the two developers bidding on it, seem to have particularly clean hands. Meanwhile, Jesse’s friend and Paradise mayor, Neil O’Hara, isn’t a fan of the development, and neither are a group of locals who call themselves Save Our Beach (SOB). So when Jesse finds O’Hara dead in a shallow grave on The Throw, he suspects it isn’t the suicide that it seems to be. And his suspicions get raised even more when a couple of the SOB members go missing too.
What follows is a typical Parker mystery as Jesse, Molly and Suit investigate, pulling in favors from various more or less savory characters, trying a bit of modern forensics, doing some old-fashioned leg work, using the research skills of Jesse’s recently found son, and, of course, ending up in a gun battle or two. There’s a bit of extra tension created when Wilson Cromartie (Crow) shows up back in Paradise, with decidedly ambiguous motives, and a few other old favorites make appearances too. Throughout, Mike Lupica does a great job of replicating Parker’s terse, wise-cracking, short-chapter style, while still having it feel authentic.
If I have any issue with Stone’s Throw, it’s an issue that I’ve had since Parker himself was writing the series. And my problem is that at times I have to suspend disbelief a bit as it relates to some of the bad-guys-who-have-become-semi-good-guys, such as Vinnie Morris, and, in this book especially, Crow. But this is a long-time feature (or bug) of Parker’s books, and if I were all that bothered by it, I would have quit reading them a long time ago – which I haven’t. All-in-all, I very much enjoyed Stone’s Throw, and think that other fans of the Jesse Stone books will like it a lot as well. And finally, my thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and NetGalley for the advance review copy.