Stone Cold

by Robert B. Parker

The Jesse Stone Series

Paradise, Massachusetts, police chief Jesse Stone returns, tracking the path of a pair of thrill killers.

Investigating a serial killer in an affluent suburban town is difficult, and dangerous, and with the added pressures from the town selectmen and the media, the heat is turned up on Jesse. He's spending too much time with the bottle-and with his ex-wife—neither of which helps him, or the case. And the harder these outside forces push against him, the more Jesse retreats into himself, convinced-despite all the odds—that it's up to him alone to stop the killing.

As tough, clear-eyed, and sardonic as Jesse Stone himself, this is the Grand Master working at the peak of his powers.

Reviews

"Small-town police chief Jesse Stone...comes into his own big-time...A star is born."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A book as good as top-drawer Spenser...Told in third-person prose that's a model of economy, with sharp action sequences, deep yet unobtrusive character exploration...this is prime Parker, testament to why he was named a Grand Master at the 2002 Edgar Awards."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Parker's most rewardingly complicated shamus might be Jesse Stone, an LAPD burnout who now toils as police chief in the not-so-idyllic small town of Paradise, Mass...Adeptly switching between scenes of Stone's professional and personal lives, Parker illuminates the dark-cornered minds of sociopaths and alchoholics. And as always, he renders the action in prose as clear and potent as a fine vodka."
Entertainment Weekly

"If Spenser is the invincible knight, the timeless hero of American detective fiction, then Jesse Stone...is the flawed hero of the moment, a man whose deficiencies define his humanity...you want to cheer."
The New York Times Book Review

"This is the fourth book in Parker's "Jesse Stone" series, and it is the best...Like Spenser, Parker's most famous creation, Jesse is known for his clever repartee, but his personality is darker and more troubled."
Library Journal (starred review)

"Parker is in roaring form...Jesse resists oppressors because he is full of compassion for victims. He knows from inside what it's like to be a victim; he's learning that his principal oppressor is himself."
Boston Globe

"Parker adroitly manages to keep the suspense quotient high in this tale...The body count in Stone Cold is higher than in most of Parker's other mysteries, but then so are the therapeutic breakthroughs."
Washington Post (Book World)

"Like every master, Robert B. Parker keeps several heroes in his stable."
Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Parker...is the real deal."
The Sacramento Bee

"A fun read."
The Tampa Tribune

"The story moves like a speeding bullet. Parker doesn't waste a word."
Orlando Sentinel

"A snappy page turner."
The Times Union (Albany)

"Stark prose and plenty of action is what this novel is all about."
—Harriet Klausner, Harriet's Book Reviews (online posting)

Buy the book

paperback | Putnam | 2003 | ISBN: 9780399150876

Excerpt

1

After the murder, they made love in front of a video camera. When it was over, her mouth was bruised. He had long scratches across his back. They lay side by side on their backs, gasping for breath.

"Jesus!" he said, his voice hoarse.

"Yes," she whispered.

She moved into the compass of his left arm and rested her head against his chest. They lay silently for a while, not moving, waiting for oxygen.

"I love you," he said.

"I love you too," she said.

He put his face down against the top of her head where it lay on his chest. Her hair smelled of verbena. In time their breathing settled.

"Let's play the video," she whispered.

"Let's," he said.

The camera stood beside the bed on a tripod. He got up, took the tape from it, put it in the VCR, got back into bed, and picked up the remote from the night table. She moved back into the circle of his arm, her head back on his chest.

"Show time," he said, and clicked the remote.

They watched.

"My God," she said. "Look at me."

"I love how you're looking right into the camera," he said.

They watched quietly for a little while.

"Whoa," she said. "What are you doing to me there?"

"Nothing you don't like," he said.

When the tape was over he rewound it.

"You want to watch again?" he said.

She was drawing tiny circles on his chest with her left forefinger.

"Yes."

He started the tape again.

"You know what I loved," she said. "I loved the range of expression on his face."

"Yes," he said, "that was great. First it's like, what the hell is this?"

"And then like, are you serious?"

"And then, omigod!"

"That's the best," she said. "The way he looked when he knew we were going to kill him. I've never seen a look like that."

"Yes," he said. "That was pretty good."

"I wish we could have made it last longer," she said.

He shrugged.

"My bad," she said. "I got so excited. I shot too soon."

"I've been known to do that," he said.

"Well, aren't you Mr. Dirty Mouth," she said.

They both laughed.

"We'll get better at it," he said.

She was now rubbing the slow circles on his chest with her full palm, looking at the videotape.

"Ohhh," she said. "Look at me! Look at me!"

He laughed softly. She moved her hand down his stomach.

"What's happening here?" she said.

He laughed again.

"Ohh," she said. "Good news."

She turned her body hard against him and put her face up.

"Be careful," she murmured. "My mouth is sore."

They made love again while the image of their previous lovemaking moved unseen on the television screen, and the sounds of that mingled with the sounds they were making now.