Robert B. Parker has been writing Spenser novels for a quarter century now, and, let's face it, his wise-cracking, hard-hitting, classics-spouting hero is getting a little long in the tooth. It seems only natural that Parker would want to introduce a new hero to his readers, even as he continues Spenser's adventures. That the hero is part of the Spenser milieu makes it easier to get to know him, and considering the character's character, that's probably a good thing.

Jesse Stone is a man with a past; he's an ex-Los Angeles police officer, divorced, and an alcoholic in the making. For a young man, he's carrying a lot of baggage when he becomes the police chief of the little town of Paradise, Massachusetts (which is where we met him in Night Passage, Parker's first novel in this new series).

In Parker's new novel, Trouble in Paradise, we pick up where we left off at the end of Night Passage. Jesse's actress ex-wife is living in Boston now, working as a weather girl. Also in for a change of scenery is Jimmy Macklin, who's just out of prison and looking for a big score; he thinks he's found it in Paradise, specifically Stiles Island, a gated community for the very rich. Together with Faye, his girlfriend, and a hand-picked crew of criminals, he plans to cut Stiles Island off from Paradise, rob the entire island, then make his getaway by sea. What he doesn't count on is Jesse Stone if Jesse can find the time to stop him. His plate is pretty full as it is, with a hate-crime to investigate, a wealthy family meddling in his investigation, and three (!) women after him. Thwarting a band of expert, bloodthirsty criminals might be the easiest thing he'll do all day.

Trouble in Paradise is full of Robert B. Parker's trademark snappy repartee, straight-arrow justice, and characters you care about. Jesse Stone is not as endearing a character as Spenser, but like Spenser, like reality, he shows a capacity for change. I've got a feeling he'll grow on you.

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