Stranger in Paradise
Robert B. Parker
Putnam, Feb 2008, $25.95
Apache hit man Wilson "Crow" Cromartie brazenly walks into the office of Paradise, Massachusetts Chief of Police Jesse Stone to ask the cop to make his latest consulting job easier. Jesse reminds Crow that a decade ago, he was part of a gang that executed a deadly heist on nearby affluent Stiles Island. Crow says he had nothing to do with the homicides as he was forced to flee on a speedboat from a dangerous shootout, which Jesse reminds him led to the death of two police officers.
Louis Francisco, reputed crime boss of South Florida, hired Crow because he knows the Paradise coast and has a reputation for success. He wants Crow to find his daughter and report back to his client for further instruction. Jesse says he will discuss an arrest with the ADA. After Crow leaves Jesse tells his staff that Crow freed the female hostages because he does not kill women, but when it comes to men, he is STONE COLD.
Crow informs Louis he found Amber living in poverty with her mother Fiona. Louis orders Crow to kill Fiona and bring Amber to him. Since he does not murder women, Crow brazenly tells Jesse to protect Fiona. The question for Jesse is whether Crow will abduct Amber to take her south; complicating matters is his ex wife TV reporter Jenn is involved as she investigates local teen gang activity.
Crow steals the show with his odd but fascinating morality that enables him to double cross clients as he did ten years ago, kill men in cold blood, steal from the dead, and not harm a woman. Jess is at his best when he reluctantly collaborates with Crow; he is at his worst when he begins to reconcile with Jenn; ignoring her sexual betrayals to further her career that turned him into an alcoholic, which in turn cost him his LAPD job. Time lines since LA and the Stiles Island caper aside, this is a solid thriller, but Robert B. Parker needs one more DEATH IN PARADISE so that Jess can stop obsessing over Jenn.