Today on his website, Reed Farrel Coleman announced he had accepted the offer last May to continue Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone, following Michael Brandman's Killing The Blues, Fool Me Twice, and Damned If You Do. Coleman's first Stone novel, Blind Spot, goes on sale September 9.
When Parker created Stone in 1997's Night Passage, I liked the challenges he was presenting himself. Younger, flawed, and written from third-person, Stone would be everything Spenser was not. My favorite Stone novel is the fourth, Stone Cold, adapted by Brandman and John Fasano to launch the TV movie series starring Tom Selleck.
After Stone Cold the character went on a three-year hiatus, the Sunny Randall novel Melancholy Baby, period baseball mystery Double Play, and Western Appaloosa filling his usual fall slot. Putnam eventually published five more Stone novels by Parker, but higher paperback prices and weaker-sounding plots kept me from reading them.
Selleck's older Stone became the more compelling portrayal for me. Brandman was chosen on the strength of that portrayal, but a sample of Killing The Blues shows his inexperience as a novelist. I'm glad Putnam and Parker's estate have moved on. I believe, having written the flawed, wounded Moe Prager, Coleman has the right sensibilities to write Jesse Stone.
In the simplest terms, I wasn't interested in the Stone novels, and now I am again.
UPDATE: A further post on Coleman's site reveals he's signed with Putnam for four novels in the Stone series and two in a new series of his own featuring Suffolk County, Long Island cop Gus Murphy.