As a huge fan of the late Robert B. Parker's work - first and foremost, the Spenser series and to a somewhat lesser extent, those featuring Jesse Stone, I was really, really hoping this one would be as top-notch as possible given that Parker didn't write it. It's the 13th Stone installment and the first by Reed Farrel Coleman following several by Michael Brandman.
But while Brandman came close to capturing Parker's voice, Coleman falls a bit short. That said, if I could give it 3 1/2 stars, I would - I certainly didn't not enjoy it. The story line, in fact, wasn't bad at all; all my disappointment is focused on Jesse's dialogue - not quite as crisp and blunt as usual - and page after page of exposition that just seemed a tad excessive.
This one begins as Jesse, the chief of police in laid-back Paradise, Massachusetts, reluctantly heads for New York for a reunion of his former Triple-A baseball team. His once-promising career forever sidelined by a freak injury years ago, he has decidedly mixed feelings about digging up old memories. Those memories include the beautiful Kayla, his former girlfriend who's now the wife of an old teammate.
Just as the get-together gets going, though, Jesse learns that a young woman has been found back in Paradise, and the son of a leading town resident may have been kidnapped. Of course, he heads back (more than a little relieved to escape the New York festivities) only to find there may be a connection between his old teammates and what's happened in his adopted home town.
A handful of characters from earlier books make an appearance here as well - coworkers "Suitcase" Simpson and Molly Crane, for instance - but they, too, just don't quite reach the personality standards of older books. And, there's a cliffhanger ending which, I suppose, is intended to motivate readers to buy the next installment - but it was a big turn-off for me. Every time an author tries that technique, I feel manipulated, and that's not a feeling I enjoy.
My conclusion? This is a decent book that's worth reading on its own, but the relationship to Parker or Brandman is slim to none. So if you're looking for writing that's true to either of them, save your money.
Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot by Reed Farrel Coleman (Penguin Group, September 2014); 342 pp.