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    DEATH IN PARADISE by Robert B. Parker


    G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2001

    When his after-softball game party is disrupted by the discovery of the body of a teenaged girl, murdered in his town, police chief Jesse Stone vows to track down the killer. But who is she? No one locally has reported a missing teen. The body is too badly decomposed to yield fingerprints. Only persistent detective work and a good bit of luck will give them a name, let alone a killer.

    Stone is an intriguingly damaged protagonist. After being divorced for four years, he is still stuck on his ex-wife, unable to create a true relationship with any other woman. Alcohol cost him his job in Los Angeles homicide, but he can't give up that addiction either. Stone must confront himself, as well as whoever killed the young woman, before he can solve this mystery.

    Author Robert B. Parker (click here for additional reviews of novels by this author) has created a page-turning and powerful story. At times, I found myself wanting to reach out and shake Stone until he got himself straightened up. Parker certainly knows what it means to be stuck on a woman and is convincing in his discussions of alcohol as well. Solid police work, and an insight into baseball as a metaphor for American maleness add to this fine novel. Although it lacks the characteristic dialogue of Parker's Spenser novels, DEATH IN PARADISE also gives Parker an opportunity to develop a new character away from that well-plowed ground.

    Four Stars

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