Monday, January 9, 2012

The Reincarnation of Robert Parker

Parker was dead to begin with. So, when I picked up his latest book, Killing the Blues, a Jesse Stone novel, I assumed it was one he stockpiled before his death.
I love Jesse Stone. The police chief of a small New England resort town, Jesse is a burnt-out, alcoholic, ex-LA policeman. He's also the subject of a series of dynamite novels and an equally dynamite series of movies starring Tom Selleck.
About two pages into this novel, though, I begin having problems. It was Jesse Stone, yes; it was Paradise, yes; it had all the usual elements, but it wasn't Robert Parker. I'm not sure I could have elucidated the differences, but Parker hadn't written this book.
I flipped back to the book cover. Aha! It said, "Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone," and then, down below, the name of the author.
Once I was able to get my mind around the fact that Robert B. Parker would no longer be writing Jesse Stone novels, I was able to finish the book with equanimity. And it's a good book. I'll read the next one too.
But it's just not the same. Lots of people have tried to take over for dead novelists, and to my recollection, none has carried it off. There have been James Bond books, Sherlock Holmes books, Jane Austen books, Nero Wolfe books.
Sometimes they come close (Sherlock Holmes), sometimes they are way off (Nero Wolfe). I appreciate the efforts, and I read the books, but I do so miss Ian, Jane, Conan, and all the others.