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Reed Farrel Coleman Makes Jesse Stone His Own In The Hangman's Sonnet


When reading Reed Farrel Coleman's previous Jesse Stone novel, Debt To Pay, it felt he was moving Robert B. Parker's Paradise Mass. police chief closer into his own thematic territory. His latest, The Hangman's Sonnet, confirms this. While delivering everything we expect from the series, we get a strong look at loss and search for identity that Coleman explores in his own Gus Drury series.

Mainly this is due to fallout from Debt To Pay. The loss of Diana, his fiance, has him drinking and locked in a funk that has become more self pity than mourning. Officer Molly Crane his main ally, keeps running interference with the mayor who wants to can him. It doesn't look like Jesse is even capable of handling security for a proposed music festival Paradise is planning, featuring reclusive sixties sensation turned recluse Terry Jester. When a town matron is found murdered in her house along with a roughed up delivery man, it appears to be a part of a home invasion, but only one piece of jewelry is stolen. As Jesse looks into it between bottles of Black Label, it becomes connected to several other crimes and a legendary lost recording of Jester's.

This is one of Reed Farrel Coleman's best plotted novels, and it gives hims a story that supports his admirable strengths as a writer. He taps into different sides of mourning, capturing the pain, put also of how it can be a self involved trap. Much of the story is how Jesse has to move forward with the grief and how he has to face that task. He gives us criminals with many different shades of morality. One, Hump, begins as comic relief, yet becomes more human and sympathetic as he builds to his poignant final appearance in the book.

The Jester legend allows Reed look into his reoccurring theme of identity in a fresh way. He has fun creating this mysterious folk rocker and his questionable history. A d.j. friend of Jesse's gives a half dozen colorful rumors about Jester when he went into hiding, many featuring real musicians like Paul McCartney. The artist's self is as elusive as his missing tape.

In The Hangman's Sonnet Reed Farrel Coleman takes the Jesse Stone series and delves deep. While giving us an engaging well crafted stories that allows us to visit with all of our favorite characters, as well as a cameo from Parker's other creation Spenser, he melds it to Jesse's emotional state, examining death, love, and grief. It forces him to examine that state as well as deal with it. In Reed Farrel Coleman Jesse Stone has found a voice that will take him far.

You can order The Hangman's Sonnet here

Also, check out my interview with Reed about the book here