Fans of American crime fiction may already know Coleman as a fine writer in his own right, or maybe even, from his collaboration with Ken Bruen, Tower. For some time now he has taken on Robert B Parker’s character Jesse Stone, adding his own style and verve to the package. The latest novel, Colorblind, set in the Massachusetts town, Paradise, is an entertaining addition to the Stone series. There’s a hard edge to this story of racism and white supremacists. While there’s no reference to Trump in the book I can’t help feeling this kind of story has some connection to the real world and the license extremists take from the demagogic leader of the ‘free world’. Anyway, Jesse is home after two months in rehab and he’s determined not to slip back into alcoholism again, but he faces a tough first case on his return:
She didn’t see it coming, a punch laid her out cold. As she comes round a man is attacking her, he’s on top of her, instinctively she knees him where it hurts and rolls out from under, she runs. She hears laughter and realises there’s are two men after her. She runs down the beach desperately searching for any sign of life; a house light, a dog walker, another person but there’s nobody. The attackers catch up to her, the man she hurt is a vicious thug, he begins pummelling the woman. It’s a brutal assault.
Jesse Stone’s break was the first time he’s been away from the job since he joined the NYPD many years ago. Molly Crane hated taking over, she’s done a good job but she’s really happy to be handing the reins back to the chief. Paradise has a new problem, a biker gang, not the usual suspects the Satan’s Whores, this is a gang of skinheads. Meanwhile, Alisha, the only black female officer in the department, got into a scrape with some rednecks in Scuppers bar the other night and there’s a drunk in the cells. This is the second time Cole Slayton has been hauled in for fighting, he seems to have some kind of grudge against Paradise.
There’s no time to settle in. Swan Harbor PD want Jesse’s help on the serious assault of a black woman, they don’t have a homicide detective and the beating Felicity Wileford took could prove fatal. She was dumped in the schoolyard, the crime scene reminiscent of the Tammy Portugal case when Jesse first came to Paradise, both victims had ‘slut’ written in lipstick on their bellies. Veteran detective Drake Daniels recognised the MO and prompted the call to Jesse.
Main Street Linz is the new HQ for a neo-Nazi group, an American flag on one wall, swastika on another and a state map on a third. An older man sitting behind a desk is berating a subordinate. He younger man’s guys jeopardised the whole mission last night. They were only supposed to scare the woman, shake her up, not beat her half to death. The younger man says he takes full responsibility for his men, the ‘commander’ says he’ll hold him to that when the time comes for sacrifices for the cause.
Alisha is called to the home of Dr Ron Patel, a flaming cross in the garden, another racist incident, Jesse starts to see the connection. When Alisha is set up Jesse knows there is real trouble ahead.
Strong characters and great storytelling, a solid addition to the series.
Colorblind by Reed Farrel Coleman
No Exit Press 9780857302861 pbk Aug 2019