Note: This review is by my husband Jim.
The Devil Wins is Reed Farrel Coleman’s second attempt at reproducing the late Robert B. Parker’s character of Jesse Stone. Stone, about 35, is the police chief of the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts. He is also an ex-alcoholic. He has made inroads into the corruption and crime in Paradise, and is well liked by the police force.
In this book, an anonymous mutilated corpse is found in a collapsed building near the skeletons of two girls who had been missing from Paradise for over 25 years. It transpires that the missing girls were good friends of Molly Crane, Jesse’s faithful and omni-competent assistant. Somehow, there seems to be a connection among the dead bodies, and indeed, we later learn that there is. In fact, no fewer than four more murders, all connected, occur in this complicated story.
On its own merits, this is a good detective-crime novel. The story is well-crafted, complex yet consistent, and the ending has a nice twist that ties up all the loose ends. Moreover, Coleman’s handling of Jesse Stone’s character is pretty true to Parker’s original, with perhaps a little more emphasis on Jesse’s drinking.
However, there is no mistaking Coleman’s writing for Parker’s. Even though, like Parker, he uses short chapters and fast pacing, his diction and rhythms are different. Parker often devoted two or three chapters to little other than snarky dialog. The repartee of Coleman’s characters is never as witty as that of Parker’s characters. Sometimes Coleman even has to alert the reader that he tried to be clever by having one of the characters say something like, “Funny man, Jesse Stone.”
Evaluation: Coleman is good at telling an interesting story. Indeed, he has won a number of awards for detective novels. But fans of Robert Parker will find that Coleman has a bit of a different overall tone and style from that of Parker.
Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2015