Jesse Stone is Saved

Blind SpotRobert B. Parker died in 2010, but his characters Spenser, Jesse Stone and Virgil Cole have lived on in new books by other authors. Ace Atkins pulled off a miracle by writing two Spenser novels that could have been mistaken for the work of Parker himself…and in his prime. Michael Brandman’s three Jesse Stone novels were awful, not just bad attempts at imitating Parker, but horribly-written books by any measure. Robert Knott’s first Virgil Cole book, Ironhorse, was a decent western, but unremarkable and certainly not up to Parker’s level (his second Cole book, Bull River, was a definite step up and, wisely, a few steps away from attempting to imitate Parker). And the less said about Helen Brann’s Silent Night, a misguided attempt to finish the book Parker was writing when he died, the better.

Now along comes Reed Farrel Coleman’s Blind Spot, a new Jesse Stone novel. I should admit a personal bias right off — Reed is a friend of mine and I am a fan of his work.  When I heard he was taking over for Brandman, I was thrilled. I had high hopes for what a writer of Reed’s skill would bring to the series and those hopes have not just been met, they have been exceeded. I am sure I am not going to be the first, or the only, person to say that he has saved Jesse Stone. His book is not only better than Brandman’s three Stone books (which isn’t setting a very high bar) but even better than the last few Stones written by Parker himself.

Reed has saved Jesse Stone by embracing the character, not by imitating Parker’s writing style. He’s done it by making Stone his own. He has fleshed out Stone’s world, and his inner life, in so many ways. His first smart move was making the crime story personal, one that goes to the root of Stone’s character, and that allows Reed to reboot the series, to reintroduce the character, his past, and his relationships and tweak them a bit along the way. He leaves the Stone series in much better the shape than Parker left it (and let’s just pretend the Brandman novels were a bad dream, okay?)

The story begins at a reunion of players from Stone’s short-lived time in professional baseball. The reunion occurs at the same time as a murder in Paradise, the small town where Jesse is Chief of Police. I won’t go into a summary of the plot, except to say it gives Reed ample opportunity to explore Jesse’s character in interesting ways.

There are many references in the story to past Stone tales, a gift for long-time fans, but Reed is not pandering to them. He’s anchoring his new Stone in the old, paying his respects but saying “we’re moving on.” Those references to past events and characters are the only nods he makes to Parker. You won’t find any imitations of Parker’s distinctive writing style and banter, something only Ace has dared, and brilliantly succeeded, in copying. Reed wisely writes in his own voice, one tweaked a bit to suit Jesse Stone but close enough to Parker’s sensibilities that it feels comfortable, familiar, and just right.

My favorite part of Blind Spot is how Reed makes everyone human, especially the bad guys, which is not something Parker ever did. The bad guys were often punching bags for either his supremely confident heroes’ fists or their wit, but they were not living, breathing people.

For Jesse Stone fans, Blind Spot is cause for celebration and, based on the final pages, perhaps some apprehension, too…at least until Reed’s next Stone novel.

 

The USA’s best thriller books from 2013 – 3 brand new crime classics

The USA’s best thriller books from 2013 - 3 brand new crime classics

The USA’s best thriller books from 2013 - 3 brand new crime classicsHere’s a guest post from my friend Kate Goldstone, a big fan in the UK of crime shows, crime novels and everything noir, talking about the amazing year 2013 was for mystery thriller books.  Do you agree with her? I’d be interested to know your recommendations, so leave a comment…

What a year 2013 was for US mystery thriller books. It was an epic twelve months in which some of the best and least well-known thriller authors scored massive commercial hits. Stephen King delivered a sequel to The Shining, to the delight of millions of fans who never quite forgot the skin-crawling terror of redrum and always wondered what happened to little Danny. Lee Child, Sue Grafton and Michael Connelly released the latest in their iconic series’ too, making 2013 a year to remember in the best thriller books stakes.

All of which made me a very happy bunny, as we say in Brit-land. Hand me a new crime mystery or thriller, switch the sunshine on, let me loose in the yard and I’m sorted.

Here are three of the best from last year. If you’re on a mission to identify the best of the genre in time for the Easter break, you could do a lot worse than grab these three and run with ’em.

Read moreThe USA’s best thriller books from 2013 – 3 brand new crime classics

Scribe Award Nominees Announced

MMHH CoverThe International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (www.iamtw.org) has announced the nominees for the 2014 Scribe Awards, recognizing the excellence in the field of media tie-in writing… the best thriller novels, mystery novels and science fiction novels based on movies, TV shows and games.

The winners will be announced, and awards presented, in July at the San Diego Comic-Con.

The 2014 Scribes Nominees:

Best Adaptation (Noveliization)

Man of Steel by Greg Cox
47 Ronin by Joan D. Vinge
Pacific Rim by Alex Irvine

Best General Original

The Executioner:Sleeping Dragons by Michael A. Black
Murder She Wrote: Close-Up on Murder by Donald Bain
Leverage: The Bestseller Job by Greg Cox
Leverage: The Zoo Job by Keith R. A. DeCandido
Mr. Monk Helps Himself by Hy Conrad

Best Speculative Original

From History’s Shadow by Dayton Ward
Supernatural: Fresh Meat by Alice Henderson
Supernatural: The Roads not Taken by Tim Waggoner
Fringe: The Zodiac Paradox by Christa Faust
Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

ManOfSteel_by_greg_coxBest Short Story

“Savior” by Michael Jan Friedman
“Redemption” by Robert Greenberger
“Locks and Keys” by Jennifer Brozek
“Mirror Image” by Christine M. Thompson
“So Long, Chief” by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane
“The Dark Hollows of Memory” by David Annandale


Best Young Adult

Kevin by Paul Kupperberg
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 by Stacia Deutsch
The Croods by Tracey West

Best Audio

Dark Shadows – 33. The Phantom Bride by Mark Thomas Passmore
Dark Shadows – 37. The Flip Side by Cody Quijano-Schell
Blake’s 7 The Armageddon Storm – by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright