Title: High Profile: A Jesse Stone Novel
Author: Robert B. Parker
Format: Paperback edition, Berkley Books
It is no secret that I am a reader largely of mysteries, most notably PI series. For anyone who has followed what I do and review, it is also not hard to determine that I am a major fan of Robert B. Parker’s work. Best known for his Spenser novels, Parker also had a few other characters who carried their own series. Probably the second most successful after Spenser was Jesse Stone, a former California Cop and Baseball hopeful who, after drinking his career and his ex wife away (sort of), relocates to Paradise, Massachusetts to become its police chief.
Now, it is safe to assume that many people are aware of Jesse Stone because of the highly successful and still in production films starring Tom Selleck as a perfectly cast Jesse Stone. If that’s your familiarity, then you’ve seen some good movies, but they are off on their own story telling track separate of the books. The first two or three films stuck really close to the source material, but have gone their own direction. What’s odd about that is I highly recommend both the books and the films, even though they carry the characters down different roads.
‘High Profile’ is the sixth book in the Jesse Stones series. The body of a well known radio talk show host is discovered in Paradise and, just as the press descends upon the town, the host’s assistant’s corpse is also found. Jesse and his small police force must hold off not only the press, but the very government of Massachusetts itself long enough to find out who killed both people. All of this while Jesse’s ex wife comes to him, saying she’s been assaulted, which forces Jesse to involve his current romantic interest, Sunny Randall (another Parker series character) to not only discover the identity of his ex’s stalker, but to protect her as well.
‘High Profile’ is typical Parker, and for me, that’s all a positive. The characters are engaging, the dialogue is dead on and different enough that you can quote lines and know which character would have said that, and the setting appears in full technicolor, whether it’s Jesse’s drab office or uptown Boston. All of the touchstones of a great Jesse Stone story are here and, as usual, Parker hits every one.
That’s also the weakest part of ‘High Profile’, however. There’s really nothing new here. The mystery is solid and the process by which Jesse gets to the end is great, as is the secondary storyline. But, to be honest, nothing really moves forward. There’s a resolution of sorts in the Jesse/ex wife/Sunny Randall triangle (which is really a square if you consider Sunny still being in love with her ex husband), but it’s not anything a regular reader of the series didn’t see coming. This book is a good entry into the series, but it’s also obviously comfortable storytelling for Parker.
I say this with great confidence, having read the book that follows this one in the series. Without giving away a whole lot, the seventh book, ‘Stranger in Paradise’ clearly shows that Parker had several tricks up his sleeve to take this series above ‘average’. He just didn’t make it with ‘High Profile.’
‘High Profile’ is definitely worth a read, especially if You enjoy good characterization and well crafted mysteries, so I give it four out of five pages.
Parker’s sixth Stone novel gets four out of six bullets in my gun. Definitely worth a read to Parker fans, to fans of Jesse Stone, but really not anything earth shattering, either as a stand alone or in terms of moving the series along.