Robert B. Parker's Fallout (A Jesse Stone Novel)
“Fallout combines murder, mystery, mobsters, crypto scams, and the snappy dialogue so characteristic of the Parker novels that came before.”
When Robert Parker passed away in 2010, he left his fans in a lurch. After all, he had predeceased his much-loved characters. It left fans wondering what was going to happen to Spenser and Susan and Hawk? What was going to happen to Sunny Randall? Or Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch?
Or, as in the case of the current review, what was going to happen to Jesse Stone, alcoholic ex-shortstop and current Paradise, Massachusetts, police chief? Fortunately, Jesse is in good hands, starting with Michael Brandman for three books, followed by Reed Farrel Coleman for six, and now New York journalist and writer Mike Lupica. Fallout is Lupica’s third in the Jesse Stone series.
Fans of Jesse Stone will recall that he was first hired and brought east to Paradise after a drunken tenure with the Los Angeles Police Department precisely because that was what the town council thought him to be: a drunk, who would be incompetent to uncover their own graft and corruption. Of course, Jesse proved them wrong. The crooked politicians are now gone, and Jesse remains standing all these books later, fighting the urge to drink on nearly every page while doing his job.
At least he’s in Paradise, and what could go wrong in Paradise? Well, as the previous books in the series show, lots could go wrong. It seems Paradise is a very dangerous place, and never more so than now.
In Fallout, Jesse is confronted with two deaths, one the obvious murder of a former police chief of the town. The second is more mysterious. A high school baseball star is found dead at the foot of a bluff just hours after a big win on the diamond. Questions abound: Was it an accident, suicide, or murder?
And, oh yeah, both deaths are very personal. Charlie Farrell, the 80-year-old former chief who had been looking into a series of scam phone calls to elderly victims, was almost like a father to Jesse. And the baseball player, Jack Carlisle? He was Deputy Luther “Suitcase” Simpson’s nephew. It just doesn’t get more personal than that.
Two seemingly unrelated deaths can put a lot of strain on a small police department, particularly because of the personal nature of the victims to all of its members. But are they actually unrelated, or is the relationship simply out of plain view? And, if that is not enough, there is still yet another death to come. It’s a deadly hat trick for the ironically named town of Paradise.
Fighting crime while fighting the siren call of alcohol are both full-time jobs to Jesse, and each complicates the other. As he contemplates, in a funk of introspection, “Now he’d been sober for the longest stretch of his adult life. He’d stopped counting the days, and months, and years. He went to meetings less frequently. But the urge to drink was always in the room. Not an elephant in the room, he thought. Just a fifth of Dewar’s.”
Jesse and his staff struggle to connect the dots of the two deaths, despite being stonewalled at just about every turn. In the case of Jack Carlisle, who played the same position as did Jesse, it was the team, itself, that stonewalled. As reporter Nellie Shofner tells Jesse, “They’re closing ranks . . . [l]ike some sort of secret society. There was some event leading up to the big game, something serious, but I can’t find out what it was.”
Fallout combines murder, mystery, mobsters, crypto scams, and the snappy dialogue so characteristic of the Parker novels that came before. For fans of the Jesse Stone stories, it’s like old home week, as all the familiar series faces arrive, some for cameos, some for more extended roles. Over the course of the book, we see the arrival of Sunny and Spike, Dix, Healy, Tony, Junior, Ty Bop, and even Wilson “Crow” Cromartie, the Apache hit man. Hail, hail, the gang’s all here.
For new readers, the reappearance of the old gang might create some confusion due to the proliferation of characters, but Fallout holds the same intrigue and suspense of the Jesse Stone novels that came before. While no one will ever fully replace Robert Parker, master of the genre, Mike Lupica’s latest satisfactorily pays homage to him.