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“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.”--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
The death of Dr. Parker was a shock to the genre community, to be sure. Eulogies steeped in eloquence can be found with just a few clicks. The eloquence is deserved, Parker saved the PI genre. That is not debatable. So we will leave those eulogies for you to find (we recommend the one from the NY Times), and say, going forward, this review takes that sad fact into account not one bit.
Split Image is more accurately described as a Jesse Stone/Sunny Randall Novel, both characters are present, together and apart.
Our story begins as Sunny visits Jesse for professional consult. She's been hired to look into an "eccentric" religious organization based in Paradise known as The Renewal. Her clients are parents whose daughter has moved into their house in Paradise. Sunny isn't quite sure if her clients are worried about their daughter or their reputation, and she starts her investigation by getting a briefing from the Paradise Police Chief, with whom she has an interesting romantic relationship. This briefing is filled with the banter that Parker is most famous for, and we immediately feel at home with these two. We like the fact that they are each others' refuge from bad situations in their own lives--Jesse's, the near-constant disappointment brought by his ex-wife, Jenn; Sunny, the irresolvable distance between her and her ex-husband, Richie.
During their chat, a body is discovered in Paradise, that of Mob Enforcer Petrov Ognowski. Jesse leaves Sunny to her business, and start digging. He finds that Petrov was a soldier for Reggie Galen, who lives in a very fashionable house, next door to a nearly-identical house where resides Knocko Moynihan, another "colorful" fella. He then finds out that both gentlemen are married to....wait for it....IDENTICAL TWINS. Rebecca and Robbie, the Bang Bang Twins.
Let your minds get busy, because Parker clearly did the same thing. Two women, growing up separate but the same. Dressing with the same clothes. Making every effort to be indistinguishable. Sleeping with each others' boyfriends, etc.
Parker has big fun exploring the psychosis of all this, from Jesse interviewing the parents, to being a temporary object of the twins' affection during an interview.
Sunny works her way through The Renewal, and her first impression is fairly benign. A little kooky, but her client's daughter seems both happy and healthy. She reports this to her clients, then learns the daughter has disappeared from The Renewal residence. Vetting the usual suspects, Sunny moves her focus back to the cult, and things get pretty interesting at that point. Along the way, Parker shares Sunny's therapy session with Boston's Greatest Shrink, Susan Silverman. We always enjoy these interludes, as they provide a strictly empirical look at Susan, something we definitely don't get from the Spenser books. As she pokes into The Renewal, it will surprise no one that things aren't as benign as she once thought.
Don't wait too long for these two cases to intersect, because they don't. They simply give us the joy of watching Jesse and Sunny, together and apart, do what they do and then ruminate on it. Sound familiar? It should.
And that's the key to why Parker's books are so effective. He lets his characters tell the story. He puts them on the path, and then more or less gets out of the way.
Split Image moves the stories of both Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall, together and apart, forward. Parker weaves in the great supporting cast in Paradise, primarily Molly Crane and Suitcase Simpson, with his usual skill.
Basically, it's a story of what happens when a childhood psychosis is untreated, perhaps encouraged, and manifests itself in adult behavior. Parker excels at this kind of superficial examination (we're not interested in clinical, are we?) to tell his story, and it's the main strength of Split Image.
I held off starting this book until I had absorbed and become accustomed to the news of Robert B. Parker's passing. Rather than anticipating that there would be dozens more Parker novels coming soon, I realized that the time had come to more carefully examine and consider the last few novels in the editorial pipeline.
Split Image was a pleasant surprise for me in several dimensions. Although the cover refers to this as a Jesse Stone novel, there's quite a lot of Sunny Randall in the book, too, as she pursues a private investigation in Paradise, that well-known home and haunt for mobbed-up crooks and moral-appearing bad guys. Their interactions are rich in this series, and Split Image is one of the best books for bringing out the foundations for the mutual attractions and hurdles.
In addition, Mr. Parker has handled a sexually tinged story with much more deftness than he usually did in the past. Sometimes his novels seem to be more like exercises in voyeurism concerning the vulgar than they are stories about human sexuality in all of its dimensions.
To me the best police procedural and crime novels start with an unusual premise . . . and then play out in unexpected ways. Here the premise is one that I would never have come up with in a million years: Two mobsters who don't care that much for one another marry twins and live next door to one another in (where else?) Paradise.
In many police procedurals, you know exactly what to expect from the beginning. Mr. Parker rewards us with a plot that has more surprises to keep things interesting than we have any right to expect. I liked that.
In some of Mr. Parker's novels from recent years, the psychological element is so large in the book that you might feel like you are in a therapy session yourself rather than reading about crime, criminals, and the idealists (Don Quixote's in disguise) Mr. Parker likes to set after those who need punishment. In Split Image, that element adds to the story and doesn't weigh too heavily.
How would I characterize this story? Everything works together in a nice balance. If I hadn't read the book, I would have been skeptical that there was still a novel to be written about Jesse Stone that would be this satisfying.
Bravo, Mr. Parker! I'm sorry you aren't here to read this praise. I'm going to miss your amazing dialogue and your ability to craft unusual stories such as this one that leave me hungry for more.
But more important, Parker wrote another fine mystery novel in his inimitable style. It is a pretty racy subject, involving a couple of murders and how two sex-crazy women, twins married to two gangsters, are involved. At the same time, Sonny takes on a cult to try to rescue a young woman.
Written with the same aplomb and pithy dialogue as all Parker novels, "Split Image" is at the same time amusing and full of surprises. Parker, of course, died recently, but he left behind some new books to be enjoyed, as well as a legacy of more than 50 novels, of which this is of equal quality, and highly recommended.
SPLIT IMAGE is also one of those titles that perfectly reflects what the book is about. Years ago, the late, great mystery author Ed McBain told me that he always tried to get titles that worked on multiple levels. So, for instance, ICE could be something you fall on in the winter, but it could also be slang for stolen diamonds or killing somebody. In SPLIT IMAGE, Jesse and Sunny, who had a brief affair in Beverly Hills many years ago, find themselves involved in two perplexing but unrelated cases in Paradise. Jesse's case starts when a soldier for a retired mobster is bumped off, and he soon finds that the mobster just happens to live next door to another mobster, one who is not so retired. They are not rivals as far as anybody knows. As a matter of fact, they are both married to sisters who are identical twins, hence a "split image."
Meanwhile, Sunny has been hired by the parents of a young woman who has run off to join a quasi-religious group in a town called "The Renewal." The group seems harmless enough, but they just might have a split image of their own --- and it could be far more sinister. Sunny is stifled when the young woman is apparently willing and happy to stay with the group while her parents are considerably shady and ready to break the law.
The genius of Robert B. Parker is that he was far more than a mystery writer. These books work on different levels. Indeed, as another great mystery writer, Lawrence Block, pointed out to me, Parker was writing romance rather than realism. The Stone and Randall books are not police procedurals or "whodunits" in the traditional sense. They are about deeply flawed protagonists searching for something greater than their lives and incapable of being anything other than knights-errant.
Chief Stone is a functioning alcoholic; he says in this book, "I made chief because the selectman at the time wanted a drunk they could control." And his problem with alcohol in the series stems from the torch he has carried for his ex-wife, Jenn. Unlike earlier books, Jenn does not make an appearance here. But when Jesse interviews the mobsters and meets their loving, attentive identical wives, he goes on a bender and ends up "passed out from strong drink." His faithful aid, Molly, covers up for him.
Sunny has had problems of her own in the past with her love for ex-husband Richie, who is now remarried and has a child. Sunny is far more in control than Jesse when she comes to him for help with her case. In fact, she goes around using the name "Stone" as an alias in her undercover work, perhaps trying it on for size like a young girl in love might do. She tells Jesse, "I think more highly of you than you think of yourself."
Again with the split image reference, Parker shows us two characters who are the split image of one another, circling carefully around, nursing their past wounds and looking for a possible new start. And as with the Spenser novels, there are multiple visits to the psychologist's and therapist's office in this book, with Sunny's shrink being none other than the love of Spenser's life, Dr. Susan Silverman. Fictional Boston, it turns out, is a small world indeed.
Has any mystery writer ever referred to modern psychiatry and analysis more than Parker? This is yet another thing that differentiates Parker from the hard-boiled, noir authors on which he did his doctoral dissertation. In noir, the protagonists can identify and even bravely battle their internal demons. But fate has destined them to fail, even if it is ultimately a heroic failure. Classic noir is existential to the core. Parker was far too optimistic to be a noir writer, and perhaps that was the secret of his success. Readers liked Spenser, Jesse and Sunny; they wanted them to succeed and wanted to believe that happy endings were still possible.
If SPLIT IMAGE is the last time we will read about Jesse and Sunny, readers will not be disappointed or saddened by the ending as this just might be the best of the Jesse Stone novels. And it is certainly Parker at his best, with 67 tightly written chapters spread over 277 enjoyable pages. As a novelist, I have been constantly amazed over the years by his ability to write cinematic, character-driven chapters of just four pages each. As a writer, that is not easy to do. The narrative discipline required to do that is remarkable. Robert B. Parker was able to do it every time out. Read SPLIT IMAGE, and you will see that we have lost a great writer. But the work lives on forever.
Robert B Parker 2010
Good, solid Parker 5*
If you've liked the recent Jesse Stone novels such as Night and Day, this one should appeal to you as well, mellow and thoughtful as opposed to exciting and suspenseful. Jesse's personal relations and thoughts (and those of Sunny Randall who also figures prominently in the book) seem equally as important as the actual criminal cases and investigative work, and even those are remarkably low key for a double gang-land homicide, religious cults and abductions.
Jesse's case shows up in the trunk of an abandoned Cadillac, the corpse of one Petrov Ognowski, a small time strong-arm man who worked for Reggie Galen, a mob boss supposedly retired to Paradise ... right next door to another major thug, Knocko Moynihan. When Jesse visits Reggie and Knocko, he is astonished to find them maried to two beautiful and charming women, identical twins, both seemingly devoted to their husbands ... which triggers a fit of jealous depression when he compares them to his ex, Jenn. The plot only thickens when another mobster is found dead in Paradise, and others disappear from the Galen and Moynihan enclaves, and, in typical Parker fashion, Jesse digs into the past of the lovely twins, revealing that not all is well in Paradise.
Sunny Randall, meanwhile, visits Jesse to ask a bit of help with her current case, finding a young woman who has joined a religious group called the Bond of the Renewal, which has set up shop in Paradise, and encourage her to come home. The Renewal seems relatively straightforward, Cheryl DeMarco there by her own choice, and indeed the Concord-dwelling parents far wackier and more sinister. Of course not all is well in this corner of Paradise either.
Jesse, as usual, skirmishes with the Demon Rum (ok, Scotch), even loses a round or two, and vents to his wise ex-cop therapist, Dix. Sunny, meanwhile, runs off to her own wise therapist ... someone named Susan Silverman who practices in Cambridge. Since Spenser isn't dragged into this one, Sunny takes over the role of commenting on how beautiful and "put together" Susan is, and reminding us that she has a Harvard Ph.D. They both have breakthroughs, or at least insights (so why do they still need to go back after all these years?), and discuss their respective therapies with each other amidst occasional canoodling. For the Renewal case has brought the two together again (as foreshadowed in Night and Day). They end on a tentative note, still haunted by the ghosts of Jesse's Jenn and Sunny's mobster ex, Richie. Alas, we'll never know whether they can find a relationship in the here and now, burying those ghosts, or will continue floundering in the Paradise tides.
I could give this 4 or 5 *s, but will round up as a farewell gesture.