A great first outing for Mike Lupica in Jesse Stone’s world…
I’m often not a huge fan of follow-on books in series whose original author has died, but I very much liked Fool’s Paradise, Mike Lupica’s first crack at a title in Robert B Parker’s Jesse Stone series. Lupica has also previously written two titles in Parker’s Sunny Randall series, which sort of makes him a natural fit for a Jesse Stone book, since the intermittent but ongoing relationship between Stone and Randall links the two series.
When reading a continuation book, I often wonder whether it is harder or easier to write in someone else’s style. Either way, though, in Fool’s Paradise, Lupica does it well. Robert B Parker had a distinctive way of presenting his mysteries, with lots of short, pointed dialogue and a good dose of dry humor, and Lupica sounds pretty much the same. He also does a really nice job carrying forward Stone’s ongoing struggle with alcoholism, and makes this even more evident by having Stone meet the first murder victim in an AA meeting, although only once, and only with first names. (Not a spoiler, since it happens quite early in the book…)
There is also a second storyline in the book, in which someone(s) appears to be targeting members of the Paradise PD, but to avoid spoilers, I’m not going to comment on whether or not these get tied together at the end. This one requires a lot of slogging through old records, though, and the tension between devoting resources to one case or the other felt like real life to me, because multi-tasking seems to be pretty much the way of the world these days.
As far as characters go, in addition to Sunny Randall, who makes a fairly notable appearance in the book, but whose relationship with Jesse doesn’t get any less complicated, we get to meet some other familiar folks: Suit and Molly from the Paradise PD, Vinnie Morris, and Jesse’s late-found son, Cole. My only minor beef here is that the references to some of the characters who don’t actually appear (e.g. Spenser, Gino Fish, even Rita Fiore) seem a bit forced, and I could have done without them, although I guess they perhaps provide a bit of context for folks who may not be totally familiar with the series. But it’s a very minor complaint for an otherwise really good book.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed this book, and I want to thank GP Putnam/Edelweiss for providing me with an advance review copy in exchange for my honest review. I’m not sure how the estate and publishers are picking who writes the ongoing stories, but personally, I recommend that they trust Mike Lupica with another one – in either series!