Stranger in Paradise Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
The last time Jesse Stone, chief of police of Paradise, Massachusetts, saw Wilson "Crow" Cromartie, the Apache Indian hit man was racing away in a speedboat after executing one of the most lucrative and deadly heists in the town's history. Crow was part of a team of ex-cons who plotted to capture Stiles Island, the wealthy enclave off the Paradise coast, by blowing up the connecting bridge. Residents were kidnapped, some were killed, and Crow managed to escape with a boatload of cash, never to be seen again. Until now.
So, when Crow shows up in Jesse's office some 10 years after the crime, it's not to turn himself in. Crow is on another job, and this time he's asking for Jesse's help - by asking him to stay out of his way.
Crow's mission is simple: find young Amber Francisco and bring her back to her father, Louis, in Florida. It should be an easy payday for a pro like Crow, but there are complications. Amber, now living in squalor with her mother, Fiona, is mixed up with members of a Latino gang. And when Louis orders Crow to kill Fiona before heading back with Amber, he can't follow through. Crow may be a bad guy, but he doesn't kill women. It's up to Jesse to provide protection.
Meanwhile, Jesse's on-again, off-again relationship with his ex-wife, Jenn, picks up steam as Jenn investigates the gang problem for her TV station. As they dig deeper, the danger escalates. The life of a young girl hangs in the balance, and saving Amber could be the miracle Jesse and Jenn need for themselves, too.
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|Listening Length||4 hours and 47 minutes|
|Author||Robert B. Parker|
|Audible.com Release Date||February 05, 2008|
|Publisher||Random House Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #114,125 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#464 in Hard-Boiled Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
#2,443 in Crime Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
#3,054 in Hard-Boiled Mystery
Top reviews from the United States
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This is the seventh Jesse Stone novel. Stone is a former Los Angeles policeman turned drunk turned small town Paradise, Massachusetts police chief. He's also struggling through working out a relationship with his ex-wife Jennifer, which has been one of the on-going subplots of the series. That particular subplot has gotten a little irritating at times because it doesn't seem to be going anywhere but constantly looms over every book.
The book had a lot of potential. Wilson Cromartie, a villain from an earlier book, puts in an appearance to tell Jesse he's going to be around town for a while. Ten years ago, Crow - the name he's called throughout the book - was part of an armed robbery gang. At the end of that, Crow chose not to harm the women hostages the gang had but managed to escape with ten million dollars.
This time around, Crow is in town working on a case, looking for the daughter of a big-time Mafia guy in Florida. I really enjoyed the way Crow and Jesse got a feel for each other and acknowledged how dangerous the other could be. When it comes to pared-down prose and tough guys, nobody delivers the goods the way Parker does.
As it turns out, Amber Francisco is a fourteen-year old mess being raised by her white trash mother. I didn't quite see how the mother went from living the high lifestyle in Florida to living a life barely getting by in Paradise, but I went with it. In addition to living the poor lifestyle, Amber has also hooked up with a young, violent Latino gang in the area.
Parker plays fast and loose with the plotting. Several things are going on throughout the novel. The past encounter with Crow threads throughout, but I'm not quite sure I'm willing to buy everything Parker promotes this time. One of the things that most jarred me was the attraction to Crow by one of the former hostages from that armed robbery ten years ago. Parker sets Crow up to be this sexual fantasy figure for that woman and they have a "one-time deal" encounter.
Not only that, but Crow's sexual magnetism wins over the one character in this series that I thought would never stray outside her marriage. Parker has explored the nature of sex and attraction throughout this series, and I've gone along with it. But, to me, this encounter really cheapened what I thought was a fantastically solid character. This decision really bothered me, which is a good thing on one level because it shows how realistically the author has created his characters.
But the sexual theme seems to hit a high note in STRANGER IN PARADISE. Especially the topic of cheating and how people didn't have to feel guilty about it. That jarred. Usually Parker ties his explorations of the subject to the plot, but this time I don't think that existing criteria was met.
Furthermore, when Crow makes the decision to save Amber and free her from her father rather than kidnap her and take her back home as he's been hired to do, the book started resonating themes from earlier Parker books. In EARLY AUTUMN, Parker's iconic private eye hero Spenser chooses to rescue a young boy from parents that only use him as a pawn in their on-going battle. In CEREMONY, Spenser rescues young April Kyle from parents that don't care about her by moving her from street hooker to high class call girl. The story with Amber smacks of both those books but doesn't dig into the plot as deeply as either of those did.
Truthfully, Crow echoed Parker's earlier creation of Spenser's friend, Hawk. Both of those characters have the same animal magnetism, skewed senses of honor, and no remorse over killing people or doing what they want to do in spite of the law.
STRANGER IN PARADISE is a fun romp. I sat down and read it straight through. I always save Parker books till a day on the weekend so I can read them without interruption. In that respect, the book was fantastic as always. I love the repartee and the familiar characters. But with all the build-up regarding Amber Francisco, I don't know whether to expect her return in future novels in the Jesse Stone series, or never hear from her again. And I don't honestly know which I'd prefer.
Parker is my favorite author, though, and I look forward to subsequent books in this series as well as others. He's still delivering straight-forward tales of crime, detective, and tough guys. It's a combination I just can't stay away from.
The character Amber, a cynical and disillusioned 14-year-old girl somewhat reminiscent of Paul DeGiacomin in "Early Autumn," is engaging. Honestly, I was hoping/expecting a reprise of "Early Autumn." She is briefly taken under the wings of Stone and Moll. The whole plot revolves around securing her enough money for financial independence in the hope that she can recover from the life she's had. The novel has a Happy Ending in which all the bad guys, including her parents, are disposed of and she is financially secure and under adult supervision--which, the characters acknowledge, may not be enough for her to turn her life around.
I can no longer keep track of the degrees of Good and Bad in Parker's characters. The clear "hero" of this novel is "Crow" or Cromartie. Jesse Stone, like Spenser, is a Good Guy with central flaws, who breaks laws but only for good. Cromartie, like Hawk, is a Bad Guy but worse than Hawk, but with a weird core of integrity. Parker's novels are too full of Bad Guys whose word is good. Cromartie is mostly Bad, but with weird core of integrity having to do with following some kind of warrior's code. It seems to involve not killing women--at least unnecessarily. Perhaps because of that, he is irresistibly attractive to women in general, and Molly in particular.
One of the cringier parts of the book is Molly's one-night stand with Crow. The key to understanding the plot is that it is just a normal male wish: one-time sex, no commitment, all fun, and what the spouse doesn't know hurt the spouse--except that he reverses the sexes and assigns Molly the traditional male attitude. Here's Crow's offer:
'“You and me, once, no strings,” Crow said. Molly met his gaze. They were silent for a moment. Then Molly said, “Why?” “We both want to,” Crow said. “You’re so sure of me?” Molly said. “Yes.” “How can you know?” Crow grinned at her. “It’s an Apache thing,” he said. “And my husband?” “You’ll continue to love him, and the kids,” Crow said.'
Sure she will. What could possibly go wrong?
There's three or four subplots and when you're finished, you're glad you bought it.
Top reviews from other countries
This is a Jesse Stone novel, one of a short series, some of which were made into TV movies featuring Tom Selleck in the lead role.
There is a cast of characters which overlaps slightly with Parker's best-known detective novels featuring Boston private investigator, Spenser, and once you're into the 'family' of characters he has created you feel at home with them and more absorbed in their world.
I also love the author's direct and simple writing style, which makes other writers seem over-dramatic and wordy by comparison. In this respect he's almost "spoiled" me for reading other people like David Baldacci, Lee Child and others. Almost.
Dive in, get hooked, and become a massive Robert B. Parker fan like me!
The plot in this one is cringey and ludicrous. Formerly one of the heavies from Trouble in Paradise, the 2nd book, the 'Crow' character returns but just to search for a young girl. His character has definitely lost momentum, such a shame given that it's usually nice to see when previous characters return.
Parker's Stone novels have by and large been on a downward spiral after the superb first two; Night Passage and Trouble in Paradise. The series finally lost its magic after Sea Change. Credit must go to Michael Brandman et al who stripped down the stories and made them into very good movies. He cut out most of the deadwood from the books, such as Jenn, and developed some of the better characters (Dr Dix, Healy) instead, quite successfully, and created more interesting plots. Selleck's portrayal of Jesse is strong and memorable, with some added humour and idiosyncrasies which really brought him to life, at times making Jesse in the books seem boring.
It's safe to say that after reading Stranger in Paradise, I will now be looking to the big screen for more of Jesse, or re-reading books 1-5.
Of course, the events and some of the participants occupy the outer fringes of credibility but the pages keep turning, the pace doesn't slacken, and there is, for this reader anyway, a genuinely moving moment. Many more ambitious books off less.