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An Interesting Series Development in a Below Average Story
on 27 June 2006
If you have liked either of the Sunny Randall or Jesse Stone series, you'll kick yourself if you don't read Blue Screen in which the two combine to detect. Propinquity leads them to do more than detect, and the emerging relationship is the high point of this book. The relationship is nudged along by significant events in the lives of Richie and Jenn.
But as my three star rating suggests, the book has problems. For the many people who found the sexual context of Sea Change in the Jesse Stone to be disturbing, be prepared to be disturbed again. In addition, the plot is remarkably unrealistic for Robert B. Parker. It's more like the plot of someone who is working on his first novel. The unrealism serves to make you feel like you are reading a book with great dialogue, but you won't be inside the story like you are with Mr. Parker's usual efforts.
So what's the story? Sunny Randall is hired to be a bodyguard for Ms. Erin Flint, an astonishing-looking action actress with limited acting ability, while she prepares for an additional career as a professional baseball player for the Connecticut Nutmegs, a team owned by her sleazy-movie producer and bed partner, Buddy Bollen. Sunny is a little puzzled by this job when she arrives to find Erin already surrounded by enough male security to stop a small squadron of infiltrators. What can Sunny's 120 pound body do that theirs cannot? Erin reports a strong dislike of men and wants to be in charge. But she's clearly on Bollen's leash.
Erin's clearly into the whole movie star routine and has a retinue to prove it.
Then, one of her entourage, Misty Tyler, is found with a broken neck. Erin insists that Sunny investigate and local police chief Jesse Stone goes along with the request.
The bulk of the book is a very slow police procedural as Sunny pulls forth one fact after another in a series of investigations in California and Boston. Along the way, she's helped by an old lover, her former uncle-in-law (Felix Burke), the state police and her guardian, Spike. Sunny uncovers a particularly tawdry background in which everyone is hiding what their true relationships are.
Spenser fans will be thrilled by two cameos by Sunny's shrink, Dr. Susan Silverman, in which Sunny explores her feelings about love and intimacy.
As the book ends, you'll be thinking about Sunny and Jesse . . . and trying to forget the story other than the parts that cover their romance.