Another from Parker’s production line

2009-09-09 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

Night and Day

Robert B. Parker

Quercus

THIS is the eighth mystery featuring Robert B. Parker’s character Jesse Stone, some of which have provided the basis for the successful made-for-TV movies starring Tom Selleck.

Parker is best known as the creator of the Spenser detective series from which he takes time out for the Stone stories and another series with private eye Sunny Randall, who began life as a character written for Helen Hunt for a film that was never made.

If Sunny Randall is Spenser in a dress, then Stone is Spenser with problems — drink and a festering relationship with his ex-wife — that saw Stone leave the Los Angeles Police Department in disgrace to become a small-town police chief in Paradise, Massachusetts.

Rather like the Spenser novels of late there is little detecting to be found in Night and Day and not much mystery either. While someone calling himself The Nighthawk shows signs of moving up from a Peeping Tom to something more sinister, Stone engages in good-natured banter with his sidekicks, allowing matters to move to their inevitable conclusion. Even Sunny Randall puts in an appearance. Can Spenser be far behind?

Not content with the Spenser/Randall/Stone series, Parker looks to be setting up a western franchise as well, featuring gunslingers Virgil Cole and Everrett Hitch. Their first outing, ­Appaloosa (turned into an excellent film by Ed Harris), has had two follow-ups so far.

Parker, the one-time heir to Raymond Chandler, has become a smoothly operating production line (50 titles so far). In the process his books have become both eminently readable and instantly forgettable.

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