Night and Day
by Robert B. Parker
The Jesse Stone Series
Paradise, Massachusetts, police chief Jesse Stone confronts a town's darkest secrets in the shocking new novel from the New York Times–bestselling author and "America's greatest mystery writer" (The New York Sun).
Dear Chief Stone:
I know you have been looking for me...I won't turn myself in. I probably should, but my obsession won't let me. What I know is that my life is becoming more unbearable every time. I need to see. I need to know their secret.
The Night Hawk
Things are getting strange in Paradise, Massachusetts. Police Chief Jesse Stone is called to the junior high school when reports of lewd conduct by the school's principal, Betsy Ingersoll, filter into the station. Ingersoll claims she was protecting the propriety of her students when she inspected each girl's undergarments in the locker room. Jesse would like nothing more than to see Ingersoll punished, but her high-powered attorney husband stands in the way. At the same time, the women of Paradise are faced with a threat to their sense of security with the emergence of a tormented voyeur, dubbed "The Night Hawk." Initially, he's content to peer through windows, but as times goes on, he becomes more reckless, forcing his victims to strip at gunpoint, then photographing them at their most vulnerable. And according to the notes he's sending to Jesse, he's not satisfied to stop there. It's up to Jesse to catch the Night Hawk, before it's too late.
"Robert B. Parker's protagonists do not merely fall in love. They become obsessed with the objects of their affections, and they stay that way for a long time...as in every Parker novel, the great attraction is the writing. The author's wry wit and clear, muscular prose go down so easily that his books seem to be not so much read as inhaled."
"Stone, who continues to struggle with his drinking and his obsession with his manipulative ex-wife, is the most engaging of Parker's post-Spenser contemporary protagonistsEverett Hitch and Virgil Cole from the author's two recent westerns are equally appealing. This is a solid...mystery...the dialogue is spot on, and the professional chemistry between Stone and his small force is its own reason to read the series."Booklist
"With a few bold strokes, Parker sketches characters and plot, then uses long stretches of his trademark pithy dialogue to carry the story briskly forward...enjoyable."
"...fleshed out with sage reflections about the psychology of voyeurs."
"Is there any contemporary author as prolific as Robert B. Parker?...If there's a formula for cranking out extremely readable stories in a variety of settings, Parker has mastered it. He offers crisp, snappy dialogue, an abundance of wit and a...good-versus-evil plot. It all generates that much-coveted feeling that the reader can't wait for the author's next novel."
The Tampa Tribune
"In addition to delivering thought-provoking material, Parker also delivers a fast-paced tale of investigation and deduction...the dialogue is crisp and dead on. No one writes dialogue as pared down to the bone as Parker."
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paperback | Putnam | 2009 | ISBN: 9780425232996
Jesse Stone sat in his office at the Paradise police station, looking at the sign painted on the pebbled-glass window of his office door. From the inside it read FEIHC, or it would have, if the letters hadn't been backward. He tried pronouncing the word, decided he couldn't, and stopped thinking about it. On his desk was a glamour head shot of his ex-wife. He looked at it for a time, and decided not to think about that, either.
Molly Crane came from the front desk and opened the door.
"Suit just called in," she said. "There's some kind of disturbance at the junior high school and he thinks you and I ought to come down."
"Girls involved?" Jesse said.
"That's why he wants me," Molly said.
"I understand," Jesse said. "But why does he want me?"
"You're the chief of police," Molly said. "Everybody wants you."
Jesse glanced at Jenn's picture again.
"Oh," Jesse said. "Yeah."
Jesse stood, and clipped his gun to his belt.
"Though you sure don't dress like a chief," Molly said.
Jesse was wearing a uniform shirt, blue jeans, Nikes, a dark blue Paradise police baseball hat, and a badge that said Chief. He tapped the badge.
"I do where it counts," he said. "Who's on the desk?"
"Steve," Molly said.
"Okay," Jesse said. "You drive. No siren."
"Oh, damn," Molly said. "I never get to use the siren."
"Maybe when you make sergeant," Jesse said.
There were two Paradise police cruisers parked outside of the junior high school.
"Who's in the other cruiser," Jesse said as they got out of the car.
"Eddie Cox," Molly said. "He and Suit have seven to eleven this week."
They walked into the school lobby, where a thick mill of parents was being held at bay by two Paradise cops. Most of the parents were mothers, with a scatter of fathers looking oddly out of place. When Jesse came in they all swarmed toward him, many of them speaking to him loudly.
"You're the chief of police, are you gonna do something?"
"I want that woman arrested!"
"She's a goddamned child molester!"
"What are you going to do about this?"
"Do you know what she did?"
"Did they tell you what happened here?"
Jesse ignored them.
He said to Molly, "Keep them here."
Then he pointed at Suit and jerked his head down the hallway.
"What's up," Jesse said when they were alone.
Simpson's real name was Luther. He was a big kid, with blond hair and a round face. He wasn't as young as he looked, but he was young. He was called Suitcase after the baseball player, Harry "Suitcase" Simpson.
"This is weird," Suit said.
"Mrs. Ingersoll," Suit said, "the principal. Christ, she was principal when I was here."
"There was some kind of after-school dance yesterday," Suit said, his voice speeding up a little. "Eighth-grade dance. And before the dance, Mrs. Ingersoll took all the girls into the girls' locker room and picked up their dresses to see what kind of underwear they had on."Jesse stared at Suit for a time without speaking.
Then Jesse said, "Huh?"
"That's what the girls claim."
"Why did she do that?" Jesse said.
"Don't know," Suit said. "But when the girls got home a lot of them told their mothers, and..." He gestured toward the crowd.
"Where's Mrs. Ingersoll?" Jesse said.
"In her office."
"You ask her about this?" Jesse said.
"She called in and said there was a disturbance. So we came down here and found what you see. It was like a damned lynch mob. We sort of wrangled them into the lobby, and Mrs. Ingersoll went in her office and won't come out, which is when we called you...and" Suitcase looked a little uncertain "because of the, ah, nature of the alleged crime, you know, we thought Molly should come, too."
"How about the girls?" Jesse said.
"That got, ah, checked?" Suit said.
"I guess they're in class," Suit said. "I haven't had time to do a lot of investigating. Me and Eddie had our hands full with the parents."
"Isn't this swell," he said.
Jesse walked down the corridor to the lobby. The crowd of parents was silent now, standing in angry vigil.
"Get them down to the auditorium," Jesse said to Suit. "Get the names of their daughters and ask the girls to go there, too. You need help, call Steve, tell him to send some."
"You gonna talk to Mrs. Ingersoll?" Suit said.
"Yep." "Then you coming to the auditorium?" Suit said. "Yep." "You know what you're gonna tell the parents?" "Not a clue," Jesse said.
Jesse brought Molly with him when he went into Mrs. Ingersoll's office.
"Chief Stone," Mrs. Ingersoll said when he came into her office. "How lovely to see you. And this is?"
"Officer Crane," Jesse said.
"How do you do, Officer Crane," Mrs. Ingersoll said.
Mrs. Ingersoll smiled brightly.
"Have you dispersed those foolish people?" she said.
"We've asked them to wait in the auditorium," Jesse said. "And we'll ask their daughters to join them there."
"My goodness," Mrs. Ingersoll said.
"Tell me about this situation," Jesse said.
Mrs. Ingersoll was sitting behind her big desk. The desktop was immaculately empty.
"Situation? Chief Stone, I fear that it overstates things to call it a situation."
"Tell me something," Jesse said.
"I have very little to tell," Mrs. Ingersoll said. "I'm not angry at these parents. They are concerned with their children's wellbeing, as am I."
Jesse waited. Mrs. Ingersoll smiled at him. Jesse waited. Mrs. Ingersoll smiled.
"The girls say you picked up their skirts and checked their underwear."
Mrs. Ingersoll continued to smile.
"Did you?" Jesse said.
Still smiling, Mrs. Ingersoll leaned forward and folded her hands on her desk.
"I have given twenty years of my life to this school," she said, "the last ?ve as principal. Most people don't like the principal. Being police chief, you may understand. The students think I'm here to discipline them. The teachers think I am here to order them about. Actually, of course, I am here to see to the wellbeing of the children."
Jesse nodded slowly. When he spoke his voice showed no sign of impatience.
"Did you look at their underwear, Mrs. Ingersoll?"
"I have done nothing illegal," she said brightly.
"Actually," Jesse said, "that's not your call, Mrs. Ingersoll."
Her eyes were big and bright. Her smile lingered.
"You've been accused of an action," Jesse said pleasantly, "which, depending on the zeal of the prosecutor, the skill of the defense, and the political inclinations of the judge, might or might not be deemed a crime."
"Oh, Jesse," she said. "That's absurd."
"Did you check their undies, Betsy?" Jesse said.
She continued to smile. Her eyes continued to sparkle. But she didn't speak.
"Would you care to come down to the auditorium with me and thrash this out with the kids and their parents?" Jesse said. "Try to keep this from turning into a hairball?"
She remained cheerfully motionless for a moment. Then she shook her head.
"Do you know who my husband is, Jesse?" she said.
"I do," he said.
"Well, I'm going to call him now," she said. "And I'd like you to leave my office, please."
Jesse glanced at Molly. Molly's lips were whistling silently as she stood studying the view from the window behind Mrs. Ingersoll. He looked back at Mrs. Ingersoll.
Then he said, "Come on, Moll, let's go talk to the girls."
As they left the office, Mrs. Ingersoll picked up the phone and began to dial.