Realizing that everyone has different tastes and opinions, I find myself wanting to praise the books I enjoy. If I don't get into a novel for whatever reason, I won't waste the time in critizing it. Maybe it was simply me and not the author, plus what I don't like, someone else might. So, reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt.
Though Michael Brandman's first Jesse Stone novel, Killing the Blues, read somewhat like a teleplay for a TV movie (it didn't bother me in the least), his newest venture into Jesse Stone fictional territory, Fool Me Twice, hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned. I loved his first book, but enjoyed this one even more. I believe that he and fellow author, Ace Atkins (Spenser's Lullaby) now have the two main series by Parker down pat. Both Spenser and Jesse Stone are in good hands, and I feel that Bob would be extremely pleased to know his children had been placed in loving homes.
The newest Jesse Stone novel has a big movie crew showing up into Paradise, Massachusetts to shoot a film with Marisol Hinton in it, Hollywood's up-and-coming starlet. She has just separated from her husband, who is also an actor. Leaving him penniless, he's determined to extract his revenge by following her to Paradise and killing her to collect the insurance. Stone makes the suggestion of getting Marisol a bodyguard, and Wilson Cromartie (aka Crow) is hired through the chief's recommendation. Crow is definitely a character I want to see more of and to learn about his past.
While that is going on, Chief Stone is the witness to a traffic accident, involving a young debutante (Courtney Cassidy) who was texting on her cell phone, instead of paying attention to the road. She gives Jesse a lot of attitude because her parents are wealthy, and he decides to go after her after everyone else advises him to drop the case. It isn't long before he realizes Courtney is a troubled teen and is silently calling out for help. The problem is how to reach her when he hits a brick wall with every move.
Now, while those two scenarios are in place, Chief Stone receives some complaints from the local citizens about their higher than usual water bills. The problem here is that there was never a mention about any rate increases. Jesse has to find out if anything is going on underneath the table that may be illegal. Who ever thought water could be exciting, unless you're stuck out in the desert without any.
Even while juggling three cases in the air, our hero still has time to date the Line Producer (Francis "Frankie" Greenberg) of the movie being filmed. Jesse certainly hasn't lost that touch with the ladies. Fortunately for Jesse and the readers, his ex-wife Jenn is barely mentioned in the book, plus he's cut back on his drinking, which always good. Also, as any reader can vouch for, none of Jesse's relationships ever amount to anything.
Most of the main characters from the books are also back: Molly, Suitcase Simpson, Captain Healey, Carter Hanson, and Hasty Hathaway. Unlike the television series, Jesse Stone has a cat to keep him company, instead of a dog. Since I'm both a cat and dog person, it doesn't matter to me. I get along fine with both species because they know I'm a pushover.
The writing in Fool Me Twice is somewhat reminiscent of Robert Parker's style, but still Michael Brandman's own. He has the dialogue and subtle nuances pitch perfect, the story structure clearly down, the character development right on the nose, the twist and turns that keeps the reader flipping over to the next page are there at the end of every chapter, and the finale wraps everything up in a way that is most satisfying. In other words, Mr. Brandman is definitely the man when it comes to writing Jesse Stone either for the literary community or the viewing audience.
There's one last thing I need to mention that is important. As I've gotten older, my reading has slowed down considerably. It now takes me one-to-two weeks to read an average size novel. I read Fool Me Twice in less than five hours. I couldn't put it down, until I finally reached the last page. It was that good to me.
Needless to say, I highly recommend this book to the fans of both Robert Parker and Jesse Stone. I sincerely hope Michael Brandman will continue with the series. I certainly look forward to more Jesse Stone novels in the future.