Trouble in Paradise

by Robert B. Parker

The Jesse Stone Series

Robert B. Parker and his legendary Spenser series have long been considered the one plus ultra of detective fiction. But the critics' praise for Jesse Stone's debut in Night Passage proved there was room for addition to the Parker literary canon. "A novel as fresh as it is bold . . . Parker's sentences flow with as much wit, grace and assurance as ever, and Stone is a complex and consistently interesting new protagonist. His speedy return will be welcome." (Newsday)

Stiles Island is a wealthy and exclusive enclave separated by a bridge from the Massachusetts coast town of Paradise. James Macklin sees Stiles Island as the ultimate investment opportunity: all he needs to do is invade the island, blow the bridge, and loot the island. To realize his investment, Macklin, along with his devoted girlfriend, Faye, assembles a crew of fellow ex-cons--all experts in their fields -- including Wilson Cromartie, a fearsome Apache. James Macklin is a bad man -- a very bad man. And Wilson Cromartie, known as Crow, is even worse.

As Macklin plans his crime, Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone has his hands full. He faces romantic entanglements in triplicate: his ex-wife, Jenn, is in the Paradise jail for assault, he's begun a new relationship with a Stiles Island realtor named Marcy Campbell, and he's still sorting out his feelings for attorney Abby Taylor. When Macklin's attack on Stiles Island is set in motion, both Marcy and Abby are put in jeopardy. As the casualties mount, it's up to Jesse to keep both women from harm.

Reviews

"His protagonist, a former Los Angeles cop named Jesse Stone, has promise. His struggles with the bottle produce strong scenes."
The New York Times Book Review

"With all the authority of a bone-crunching fist, Robert B. Parker is back with another breezy detective novel that mystery fans will find as satisfying as a juicy prime rib at Peter Luger's. Deftly mixing a traditional mystery with dashes of police procedural, derring-do action and hard-as-nails dialogue, Parker has injected Trouble in Paradise with yet another blast of the page-turning energy he's famous for. Parker is an assured master. It's the effortless but gamy banter sprinkled throughout Trouble in Paradise that makes it a blast to read."
The New York Post

"Parker's plot for Trouble in Paradise is built like a smooth-running Ducati engine. It is paced beautifully. Any newcomer to Parker's work will enjoy the tight storytelling. Trouble in Paradise reads like good cinema, and it is hard to imagine this book not making its way to a move theatre."
Newark Star-Ledger

"Jesse Stone is one of Robert B. Parker's finer inventions. Parker, author of more than 30 novels including the hugely successful Spenser series, has another winner in Jesse Stone. The characters, good and bad, are well developed. A good read."
USA Today

"Tough and tight. A grand little caper tale. Stone remains a magnetic character, as silent as Spenser is chatty but equally strong. Parker fans and all who love muscular crime writing will appreciate this tale, as the Boston-based crime master once again shows how to do it well, and with style."
Publishers Weekly

"Is it a risk for Parker to create a new series with a new protagonist? Not if the results are as good as evidenced by the first two books in his new series. Parker does an excellent job of building tension and weaving several subplots into an explosive finale."
Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Paradise, Mass., Police Chief Jesse Stone made a strong debut in last year's Night Passage. Trouble in Paradise, Parker's second Stone mystery, is even better. The dialogue is great, the characters realistic and the story is top-notch. This book is so good, there's not enough R's in terrific."
The Kansas City Star

"This is typical Parker, which means it's an enthralling, one-sitting read..."
Booklist

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paperback | Ulverscroft Large Print | 2000 | ISBN: 9780708991374

Excerpt

Chapter One

When he was sleepless, which was less often than it used to be, Jesse Stone would get into the black Explorer he'd driven from L.A. and cruise around Paradise, Massachusetts, where he was chief of police. Nights like tonight, with the rain slanting down through the dark, and the streets shiny in the headlights, were the ones Jesse liked best. It would have been nice, Jesse thought, on a night like this, to have been a town marshal somewhere in the old west, where he could have relaxed into the saddle under his oilskin slicker with his hat yanked down over his eyes and let the horse find its own direction. He drove slowly past the town common with its white colonial meetinghouse on which the rain had fallen for two hundred years. The blue glare of the mercury street lamps diffused by the rain was restrained and opalescent. Except for the headlights of the Explorer, there were no other lights in this part of town. The neat houses with large lawns around the common were still and unlit. Nothing moved. The town library was blank. The high school stood inert, its red brick glistening with rain, its black windows implacable in the arc of headlights as Jesse turned into the parking lot.

He stopped the car for a moment and flicked on the high beams. The headlights rested on the baseball diamond: the rusting screen of the backstop, the slab of rubber on the pitcher's mound, bowed slightly, the hollow in front of it where the high school kids lunged off the rubber, trying to pitch off leg drive like Nolan Ryan. When he'd been in the minors, he could play the deepest short in the league because he hadthe big arm and could make the throw from the hole. Gave him range. Gave him more time. He could run. He had good hands. He could hit enough for a middle infielder. But it was the arm. Bigger arm than Rick Burleson, they used to tell him. Ticket to the show. Jesse rubbed his right shoulder as he looked at the baseball field. He remembered when he hurt it, at the start of a double play. It had been a clean take out. And it ended his career . . .

Jesse let the car slide forward and turned and went down Main Street toward the water. He pulled off the street into the empty parking lot at Paradise Beach. He let the motor idle. The rain intensified the sea smell. In the headlights the surf came in and curled and crested and broke, the black ocean making the hard rain seem trivial. A thermos of piņa coladas would be nice to drink sitting here, and maybe some music. He thought about Jenn. She had an infinite capacity for romance. If she were here, she would lean back with her eyes closed and talk with him and listen to him and let herself feel the romance of the late night and the rain and the sound of the ocean. And let him share it with her. Sometimes he thought he missed that more than anything else in the marriage. Ten years in L.A. Homicide hadn't extinguished his sense of romantic possibility. It had demonstrated beyond argument that romance was not at all likely. But in showing its evanescence, experience had made Jesse more certain that the possibility of romance was the final stay against confusion. Maybe for Jenn too. Long after the divorce, they were still connected. When she heard last year that he was in trouble, she'd come east. It wasn't the kind of trouble she could help with. She would have known that. She had come, simply, he supposed, when he allowed himself to think about it, to be there. And she was still here, living here. And what the hell were they going to do now? He put the car in drive and turned slowly out of the parking lot and drove along the beachfront toward downtown. Neither booze nor his ex-wife were good for him, and he shouldn't spend too much time thinking of them.

The marquee of the movie theater was unlit. The stores were dark. The street lights cycled through the red, yellow, green changes unobserved. He went up Indian Hill and into Hawthorne Park. He parked very near the edge of the high ground and shut off the headlights and let the car idle again while he looked out over the harbor. To his left the harbor emptied into the open ocean. To his right the harbor dead-ended at the causeway that ran from Paradise to Paradise Neck. The neck was straight across the harbor, a low dark form with a lighthouse on the north point. Just inside the lighthouse point, a hundred yards off shore, crossing the T of the point at a slant, was Stiles Island. The near end of it shielded the harbor mouth, the far end jutted beyond the point into the open sea. In the channel, between the island and the neck, where the land pressed the water on either side, Jesse knew that the ocean currents seethed dangerously, and the water was never still. But from here, there was no hint of it. The calm sweep of the lighthouse just touched the expensive rooftops of the carefully spaced houses, and ran the full length of the barrel-arched bridge that connected it to the neck. The rest was darkness.

Jesse sat for a long time in the darkness looking at the ocean and the rain. The digital clock on the dash read 4:23. In clear weather the eastern sky would be pale by now and in another half hour or so, this time of year, it would be light. Jesse turned on the headlights and backed the car up and headed back down the hill to shower and change and put on his badge.

Chapter Two

By the time was out of jail for a week, he had acquired a brown Mercedes sedan, which he stole from the Alewife Station parking garage, and a 9-mm semi-automatic pistol that he got from a guy he'd done time with named Desmond. Macklin used the nine to knock over a liquor store near Wellington Circle. With the money from the liquor store, he paid Desmond's cousin Chick, who worked at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, to fix up a registration in the name of Harry Smith and scam a legitimate license plate. He had the car painted British racing green. Then he bought a fifth of Belvedere vodka and a bottle of Stock vermouth and drove over to see Faye.

As soon as he walked in the apartment, she slipped out of the bathrobe she was wearing and in five minutes they were making love. When it was over, Faye got up and made them each a martini and brought the drinks back to bed.

"Saved that up for a year and a half," Macklin said.

"I could tell," Faye said.

They were propped among the pink and lavender pillows on Faye's king-sized bed with the martinis next to Macklin's pistol on the bedside table. The bedroom walls were lavender, and the ceiling was mirrored. The condominium was in the old Charlestown Navy Yard, and through the second floor windows they could see the Boston skyline across the harbor.

"You too?" Macklin said.

"Me too what?" Faye said.

She had a rose tattooed at the top of her right thigh.

"You been saving it for a year and a half?"

"Of course," she said.

Macklin drank some of his martini. The sheets on Faye's bed were lavender.

"Nobody else?"

"Nobody," Faye said.

Staring up at the mirrored ceiling, she liked the way they looked. He was slim and smooth. He was so blond that his hair was nearly white. He looked a little pale now, but she knew he'd get his tan back. She loved the contrast of his white-blond hair and his tan skin. She examined herself carefully. Boobs still good. Legs still good. They ought to be. Forty-five minutes every day on the goddamned StairMaster. She rolled onto her side, and looked at her butt. Tight. StairMaster does it again.

"Checking out the equipment?" Macklin said.

"Uh-huh."

"Seems to be working okay," Macklin said.

She giggled.

"How about yours?" she said.

"Pretty soon."

They finished their martinis in silence.

"What are we going to do?" Faye said.

"The same thing mostly," Macklin said, "but I was thinking maybe we could try it in the chair."

Faye giggled again. "I don't mean that," she said. "I mean what are we going to do, you know, like with our life?"

"Besides this?"

"Besides this."

Macklin smiled. He sat up higher in the bed and poured another martini for himself and one for Faye.

"Well, tomorrow," Macklin said, "we're going up to Paradise and look at real estate on Stiles Island."

"What's Stiles Island?"

"Island in Paradise Harbor. It's connected to the rest of the town by a little bridge. Bridge is gated and there's a guard shack and a private security patrol. Everybody lives there is rich. They got a branch bank out there just for them."

"How do you know about this place?"

"Guy I was in jail with, Lester Lang, kept talking about it, called it the mother lode."

"You ever seen it?"

"Nope."

"We going to buy property out there?" Faye said.

"Nope."

"So why we going up there to look at real estate?"

"We're scoping the place."

"For what?"

"For the mother of all stickups," Macklin said.

Faye put her head against his shoulder and laughed. "I'll drink to that," she said, touching the rim of her glass to the rim of his.