Kemper's Reviews > Trouble In Paradise

Trouble In Paradise by Robert B. Parker
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it was ok
bookshelves: crime-mystery, 5-0, 2015-reread, jesse-stone

Parker vs. Parker?

Robert B. Parker cooked up an ex-convict named Jimmy Macklin who has an ambitious scheme to loot an entire island populated by some very wealthy people, and he recruits a crew to help him blow up a bridge, take out a private security force, empty a bank and then make a getaway by boat so it certainly seems like he might have taken a page out of Richard Stark’s novels about professional thief Parker.

However that’s where the similarities end. For one thing, instead of being a humorless professional who wants to do the job quickly and cleanly, Jimmy is a reckless daredevil who cares more about the thrill of the heist than profiting from it. Another difference is that the book isn’t about Jimmy, it’s about the police chief Jesse Stone.

In this second book of the series, Jesse has settled into his role as the head of the Paradise PD, but his personal life continues to be a controlled train wreck. The cheating ex-wife he tried to leave behind in LA has followed him across the country, and the two of them have cautiously started dating again even as both of them are doing more banging than a screen door with other people. Even as his own cops are mocking his man-ho tendencies, Jesse can’t stop himself from following his ex when she’s out on a date and fantasizing about murdering the man she’s with.

The book would have been a lot better if half of it wasn’t consumed with Jesse’s love life. In fact, so much of it is dedicated to that the whole robbery of an entire island comes across as almost an afterthought. RBP also wasn’t the kind of writer who could naturally make a pulp concept like a gang looting a town work as well as someone like Stark (a/k/a Donald Westlake) could.

The main problem with this whole thing is that Jesse appears to have been created with the idea of being a more flawed hero then Spenser with his drinking problem and being unable to let go of his ex-wife. (Which as I’ve pointed out in numerous reviews is a well that RBP went to way too often.) That could have been an idea that worked well, but RBP liked his heroes to seem heroic. So even as he saddles Jesse with a mountain of baggage and questionable decisions, he can’t help but write him as a guy to be admired.

We’re supposed to think that his messed up relationship with his ex is a sign of a man who believes in true love rather then seeming exactly like kind of ugly domestic situation that eventually ends in a murder/suicide. Jesse was more interesting to me as a guy who had at least tried to distance himself from a bad relationship, and he seems more like a drunken chump in this book.
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Reading Progress

July 2, 2008 – Shelved
July 7, 2015 – Started Reading
July 12, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Anne (new)

Anne We’re supposed to think that his messed up relationship with his ex is a sign of a man who believes in true love rather than whole situation seeming exactly like kind of ugly domestic situation that eventually ends in a murder/suicide.

You mean that isn't the kind of relationship I should pine for?!


Kemper Anne wrote: "You mean that isn't the kind of relationship I should pine for?! .."

It isn't true love unless there's a shotgun and/or some strangling involved!


message 3: by Anthony (last edited Jul 12, 2015 09:16AM) (new)

Anthony Vacca Your reviews of his books paint a sad portrait of Parker's love life.


message 4: by Kemper (last edited Jul 12, 2015 09:30AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kemper Anthony wrote: "Your reviews of his books paint a sad portrait of Parker's love life."

What's really messed up is that this all stems from problems in his own marriage when his wife cheated on him, and they nearly split up. They eventually reconciled but their living arrangements were a little odd in that they shared a building but lived on separate floors.

It's more than a little weird to me that they supposedly patched things up yet he kept doing variations of this storyline over and over again for decades afterwards. It was almost like he was trying to punish her in the books even as he dedicated them all to her. "You're a cheating slut, but it's true love so I forgive you. Here's the proof."


message 5: by Leah (new)

Leah Polcar It was almost like he was trying to punish her in the books even as he dedicated them all to her. "You're a cheating slut, but it's true love so I forgive you. Here's the proof."

This is some depressing reading for a Monday morning.


Kemper Leah wrote: "This is some depressing reading for a Monday morning.

Then my work here is done...


message 7: by carol. (last edited Jul 14, 2015 10:52AM) (new)

carol. ...Eat at Arby's.


Kemper "Yo, it's summer & life's a beach. Covered in corpses on the edge of a scorched continent on a burning world in a cruel universe. Enjoy Arby's." - Nihilist Arby's.


William Thank you for the review.


William Anthony wrote: "Your reviews of his books paint a sad portrait of Parker's love life."

Parker’s love life was seriously troubled. See my review of
Crimson Joy


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