Who is the stranger in paradise?
Is it me? Tom Selleck? Robert B. Parker? Actually, it is a character in Parker’s 2008 novel of the same name. The character is a sociopath. A full-blooded Apache and ruthless killer. However, he’s “so cool.” He goes by the name of Crow. Crow likes women and won’t kill them. He’s got an animal, sexual, magnetism about him. In addition, he loves “to go to war.” Moreover, he has a super power. Crow can read people like an open book.
Robert B. Parker
was an American novelist (1932-2010). He was prolific, mostly detective crime works. Parker is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read many of his books. Moreover, his story telling and style are widely loved and influential, in both movies and television.
was a character he developed and wrote seven novels about. Subsequently, Tom Selleck, the actor, writer, and producer, took a liking to the stories and personality of Stone. Selleck then made nine feature films (2005-2015) featuring Jesse Stone. I recently binged them on Amazon Prime. Some of the movies are adaptions of the books, others just the character(s) and setting. The setting is a small New England, coastal town: Paradise. Jesse was hired as police chief. Stone was fired from his position as LA homicide detective for drinking.
Stone is, in my opinion, a fictive version of Parker, Selleck, and myself. Notwithstanding in varying degrees of likeness. I was once told, after a brief spot on a TV news broadcast, that I looked like Selleck. I was also given the nickname “the Sheriff” in my bartending days. Here’s a sketch of me, drawn on a cocktail napkin. Back-in-the-day.
Stone, like me, struggles with intimacy and drinks a lot. Moreover, he’s very good at his job. In addition, he lives alone and has a great fondness for smart, attractive women, children, and abandoned animals.
was a joy for me to read. After watching the movies on TV, I went into my garage and found several of Parker’s novels. I chose Stranger In Paradise to read first. Remarkably, I read it in two days. Unlike the non-fiction I’ve been reading lately – it was a page turner.
is easy on the eyes. Mostly, he tells the story via dialogue. Moreover that dialogue is short and crisp–banter between smart, curious characters. Stone is honest and direct. The other characters pick up on his manner of speaking which leaves no space for small talk. I like that. It’s like therapy for me. In more ways than one.
Speaking of – two chapters are therapy sessions with Dr. Dix. Dix is a former detective turned psychoanalyst. He’s concerned about Stone’s isolation, intimate relationships, and drinking. During one session Dix suggests that those three issues might be related to Jesse’s overly large presence. That Chief Stone might not allow enough space for an other. However, the obstacles to intimacy might not be entirely Jesse’s burden. Or am I projecting?
are not Parker’s strong suit. In my opinion. In this novel the story revolves around a fourteen year-old runaway girl. The plot is somewhat convoluted. Also, Parker’s not the best at sentence structure and other aesthetics of writing. To me, given his depth of characterization, his values, and general commentary on the human condition – I love Parker’s work
I can highly recommend reading and watching both Parker’s and Selleck’s body of work. That is if you like strong, masculine stories that reflect a kind of fantasy, if-only world. A paradise where men are men and women are women, and both struggle to understand.