Michael Brandman has returned to writing with his book “Missing Persons.” His resume is extensive, having co-written nine Jesse Stone movies and three Westerns with the legendary actor Tom Selleck, and producing more than 40 films with screenwriters such as Arthur Miller and Neil Simon. But he is also known for being the original writer of the Robert B. Parker novels after Parker’s death.
Besides working on this book, Brandman is also in the early stage of a 10th Jesse Stone movie with Tom Selleck.
“It is more of a murder mystery than the psychologically brooding Jesse, more in the line of ‘Stone Cold,’” Brandman said. “This Jesse is based upon the original one written by Parker. Even though Reed Coleman, the current writer of the Jesse Stone series, killed off the crime boss Gino Fish, Tom and I consider him an amazing and essential character. We worked closely with Bob on the first few movies and that is going to be the guideline we follow.”
Readers of “Missing Persons” will make the inevitable comparisons to the Jesse Stone series. The setting is a small town with the lead character, Buddy Steel, a chief deputy sheriff. The town, Freedom, Calif., is by a seaside just like Paradise. Buddy is similar in personality to Jesse in that he is tall, good-looking, does not like dealing with the politics, will not play the political game, will not hesitate to ruffle feathers, and is not a fan of authority. The difference is Jesse played baseball, while Buddy plays basketball.
The other stark difference is that Buddy does not drink as much as Jesse, and he returned to the town where he grew up because of his father’s illness. Having grown up in the shadow of his autocratic father he was hesitant to come back but did so out of a sense of duty. His father, the current sheriff has Lou Gehrig’s disease and has pressured his son to come home and pull the plug when necessary in an assisted suicide.
The rest of the plot involves the disappearance of an evangelistic preacher’s wife. As the quote in the book reflects, “Cameras don’t lie. There was something disingenuous about him.” People have to think no further than what Joel Osteen said and did during the floods in Texas. The book’s plot tried to show how many of these preachers are con men that emerged as self-righteous.
This is the first in a possible series. Although he is somewhat cynical Buddy Steel is a likable character. Readers are rooting for him to succeed and grow out of his father’s shadow.