“Show him in,” Jesse said.
“It’s a her,” Molly said.
“Even better,” Jesse said.
Molly smiled and stepped aside, and Sunny Randall came in, carrying a straw shoulder bag and wearing a green sleeveless top with white pants and color- coordinated sneakers.
“Wow,” Jesse said.
“Wow is good,” Sunny said, and sat down.
“And accurate,” Jesse said. “It couldn’t have been easy getting into those pants.”
“For whom?” Sunny said.
“Shall I close the door?” he said.
“No,” Sunny said. “I’m actually here on business.”
“All work and no play,” Jesse said.
“We’ll address that at another time,” Sunny said.
“That’s encouraging,” Jesse said.
“It’s meant to be,” Sunny said. “Do you know of a small religious organization here in Paradise called the Renewal? Or the Bond of the Renewal?”
“I’m the chief of police,” Jesse said. “I know everything.”
“Exactly why I’m here,” Sunny said.
“Tell me about the Renewal,” she said.
“They’re located in a house near the town wharf. Nice house; one of the elders owns it. They all live there in a kind of communal way, run by a guy who calls himself the Patriarch. About forty, with gray hair, which Molly Crane claims is artificial.”
“He dyes it gray?” Sunny said.
“What Molly claims,” Jesse said. “There’s a couple of so- called elders, ’bout your age, I would guess.”
“Hey,” Sunny said.
“I mean they’re not very elder-ish.”
“Okay,” Sunny said.
“Rest of them are mostly kids,” Jesse said. “All of whom, far as I can tell, are old enough to do what they want.”
“What do they do?”
“They preach, they hand out flyers, they go door- to- door,
“They got some kind of special belief?”
“They’re in favor of renewal,” Jesse said.
“What the hell does that mean?”
“Renewing the original intent of Christianity,” Jesse said. “At least as they understand it. Love, peace, that kind of thing.”
“Wow,” Sunny said. “Subversive.”
“You bet,” Jesse said. “Town hates them, want me to chase them out of town.”
“Which you haven’t done.”
“They haven’t committed a crime,” Jesse said.
“So, what’s the complaint?”
“They’re not one of us,” Jesse said. “And they’re kind of ratty- looking.”
“They preach on the streets?” Sunny said.
“That can be annoying,” Sunny said.
“It is,” Jesse said. “It’s annoying as hell, but it’s not illegal.”
“And you’re hung up on the Constitution?” Sunny said.
“Old school,” Jesse said.
“And the town council understands?”
“I don’t believe so,” Jesse said.
“And you care what the town council understands,” Sunny said.
“Not very much,” Jesse said.
They were quiet for a moment. The silence was comfortable.
“You want to know why I’m asking?” Sunny said, after a time.
“But not enough to ask,” Sunny said.
“I knew you’d tell me.”
Revue de presse
“Parker's stories are told in lean, lively, fast-moving and insistent prose. Anyone who can read a Parker novel without laughing is a hard case indeed. Along with the action and the humor, Parker parses such matters as autonomy, personal responsibility, courage, fidelity, the meaning of work in our lives and what it means to be a man or a woman in our post-everything society. His novels are smart as well as fun, and the Parker worldview is worth the price of admission.”—The Washington Times
“Love runs rampant in this story—young love, parental love, marital love, friendly love, lovey-dovey love, even noxious perversions of love that are downright criminal. Hotbed of passion that it’s turned out to be, Paradise seems a very good place to take our leave of Jesse.”—The New York Times