ROBERT B. PARKER'S DEBT TO PAY Is Missing the Backstory

Book Review - Jackie K Cooper
ROBERT B. PARKER'S DEBT TO PAY by Reed Farrel Coleman

Noted novelist Robert B. Parker created the character of Jesse Stone, the Police Chief of Paradise, Massachusetts. Several of his books centered around this character. Since Parker's death, Reed Farrel Coleman is the latest author selected to continue with the Jesse Stone character. This was all done with the blessing of the Parker estate. Coleman continues his stories about Stone with his latest novel ROBERT B. PARKER'S DEBT TO PAY.

In this novel Stone goes up against a deranged killer known as "Mr. Peppers." This psychopath appeared in a previous novel and it contained the circumstances causing him to be so intent on causing Jesse harm. Unfortunately for those who have not read this prior novel, Coleman gives scant information here as to what caused this vendetta. This leaves those readers feeling they are one step behind in having a full understanding of the plot.

Suffice it to say Peepers is after Stone and two of his officers, Molly and Suit. He may also have added to that list Stone's ex-wife Jenn and his current girlfriend Diana, as well as Healy, the head of the State Police Force. That is a lot number of people for Stone to protect so he begins by focusing on Jenn, who seems to be the main target.

Jenn is getting married in Dallas, She has invited Stone to the wedding but he has declined. Now that he knows she might be in danger he decides to go and to take Diana with him. Diana is ex-FBI so she should be able to keep herself safe. The other three of his friends have been alerted and are taking precautions.

Many other mystery writers have used this ploy of "madman on a rampage." We have seen it in novels by Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, James Patterson and others. Though it has been used before Coleman manages to make it suspenseful and in some ways fresh. You never know what heinous crimes this "Mr.Peepers" will perpetrate or which person(s) he will attack in the name of revenge.

In this novel Parker fleshes out the information we have about Jesse, especially in his relationship with Diana. We also get more insight into the character of Suit, a character who has been lurking in the shadows in previous books. In this one he steps forward and takes over a sizable amount of the plot, and that's a good thing.

Coleman's writing, in the Robert B. Parker vein, is acceptable in this book but not completely satisfactory. As stated, the readers will have to play catch-up for most of the story if they are not familiar with earlier crimes committed by "Mr. Peepers." A more complete recap of the back story would have made this a better book.

ROBERT B. PARKER'S DEBT TO PAY is published by G. P. Putnam's Sons. It contains 352 pages and sells for $27.00.

Jackie K Cooper