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- Publié sur Amazon.com
It is usually not a good sign when a series author decides to branch out to a new series; it usually means that the author himself has become bored with his creation and wishes to stretch his writing muscles a bit with something new. At best, this gives the faithful reader a new reason to enjoy his favorite author. At worst, the previous creation becomes a sort of exercise in frustration as the writer focuses his attention on his new baby.
In Robert B. Parker's case, we get the latter. Parker had already registered his continued contempt for his first creation, Spenser, by allowing the stories to get maudlin and sloppy, the margins to get wider and wider, and by publishing two installments of new Philip Marlowe adventures, as well as creating a new series starring a female private eye named Sunny Randall. To add insult to injury, here are we are now with "Night Passage", a fourth series concerning an L.A. cop named Jesse Stone transplanted to Paradise, Massachusetts, a bucolic little town on the Atlantic Ocean.
Jesse, plagued by drink and a wishy-washy ex-wife, sets out to remake himself as Chief of Policein a town where no one knows his name. But things get confusing when the department cat is murdered, followed by the killing of the previous chief of police and finally, a young, unwed mother. Jesse is, underneath it all, a good cop, so he is able to pull himself together, solve the crimes and have casual sex with a couple of ladies, thereby working on his abandonment issues.
Parker seems intent on making Stone as different from Spenser as possible, but the differences are superficial. Where Spenser is a hulking ex-boxer, Stone is slight. Spenser enjoys a beer or a glass of fine champagne once in a while but is, ultimately, in control, but Stone is a drunk just barely keeping his head above water. Where Spenser's relationship is stable to the point of saccharine sweetness, Stone's is wobbly. Spenser has Hawk. Stone has . . . Suitcase Simpson,. a gangly redheaded police officer. But none of this matters. The writer is still Parker, the soul is still Spenser.
Nearly half the novel is taken with Jesse's drive across country and settling in to Paradise. By the time Parker gets around to leveling the plot, we almost wish he hadn't; it is ridiculously unlikely and unworthy of a writer of Parker's heart and intelligence.
What makes this novel a good read are the spare, Hemingwayesque prose, the likeable secondary characters, the hints of what is to come. It's an okay start and, I'm not giving anything away, the second book in the series is a grand-slam homerun of a book. You don't need to read this book to enjoy the second (I didn't, until after), but it may set your mind at ease.