Tuesday, July 18, 2017


© by Gerald So | 6:30 a.m.

Thanks to publicist Erin Mitchell, I received an advance readers' copy of Reed Farrel Coleman's fourth Jesse Stone continuation novel, due out September 12. It throws Jesse, still grieving the death of his fiancee Diana Evans, into two cases: the search for a long-lost demo tape of reclusive recording artist Terry Jester, Boston's answer to Bob Dylan, and the seemingly unrelated death of an elderly Paradise resident during a robbery attempt.

Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone novels, like many of his later works, were self-contained adventures. The only thing that clearly qualifies as a multi-book arc in Parker's work is Spenser's separation from and reunion with Susan Silverman in the mid-1980s. By contrast, Coleman's fourth continuation deliberately builds on characters and events from his first (Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot). Coleman invites readers to think of continuation not as imitation of the original author, but as true further exploration of the original's fascinating characters.

Yes, this particular case teams Jesse with Parker favorites Spenser and Vinnie Morris, but more compelling to me are Jesse's efforts to move on from his addictions and from his ex-wife Jenn, two staples of Parker's books that limited the series' scope on his watch.


Anonymous said...

The three book "arc" concerning the life and times of April Kyle doesn't qualify because they weren't consecutive, I'm guessing. Thanks for the review. Now I can drool that much harder.

Gerald So said...

Right. The three April Kyle books are non-consecutive--CEREMONY (1982), TAMING A SEA-HORSE (1986), and HUNDRED-DOLLAR BABY (2006)--and unrelated by plot. When we leave April at the end of each book, her story is apparently resolved. By contrast, in the three books of Spenser and Susan's breakup--THE WIDENING GYRE (1983), VALEDICTION ('84), and A CATSKILL EAGLE ('85)--Parker plays things out and delays resolution until the last.

HC Newton said...

It's been awhile, so I'm fuzzy on the details, but couldn't you argue that there was a 3 book arc with Sunny and Jesse? Not as effective as anything Coleman's doing here (or Susan's departure), but as long as we're talking arcs . . .

Gerald So said...

I'm not as familiar with later books in the Stone and Randall series, but I've read commentary that the Stone novel HIGH PROFILE (2007) is a sequel of sorts to the Randall novel BLUE SCREEN (2006). If the plot isn't left open at the end of BLUE SCREEN to be resolved in HIGH PROFILE, though, I'd have trouble calling it a story arc.

Here I should distinguish between story arcs and character arcs. The backstory arc of Spenser-Susan breakup-reunion stretches across three consecutive books with different main stories. A character arc includes all appearances by the character, not necessarily consecutive or in a single series.

I was referring to story arc in the original post, but Coleman's Stone-Mr. Peepers arc isn't consecutive, either. Mr. Peepers appears in BLIND SPOT, skips a book, then reappears in Coleman's third, and the repercussions of his actions are felt in THE HANGMAN'S SONNET. While Parker only let plot details linger for several books once or twice, Coleman's Moe Prager series is full of callbacks and continuity between books.