The mass market release of Robert Parker’s Damned If You Do by Michael Brandman netted me a hardcover copy of the book for review. It’d been awhile since I picked up a Parker novel, as if I couldn’t quite handle that the author of so many beloved books wasn’t with us anymore. But Brandman’s writing style captures Parker’s depiction of the Paradise police chief, Jesse Stone (think… Tom Selleck), and this particular two-pronged storyline delivers.
Stone discovers that a dead prostitute has surfaced in a local dive, and no one knows who she is. He sets out to give her a proper funeral, first by discovering her identity, and unveils a feud between two opposing pimps, irritating people on both sides of the law. At the same time, Stone finds that the Golden Horizons Retirement Village isn’t living up to its name, but that its workers are mistreating those who stay there.
Neither of these cases is quite as “big” as some of those Spenser or Stone tackled in the past, but Brandman’s devotion to the Parker brand of dialogue and his efforts to show us what makes Stone tick are superb. We know Stone cares; we see it in the way that he puts life and limb on the line just to know a dead girl’s name. We see it in the way that he refuses to let justice be denied for those Alzheimers patients who can’t protect themselves.
Brandman has reignited my faith in the series, and my hope that he’ll deliver some more solid stories about characters Parker made famous… and made us care about.