“The Devil Wins” is Reed Farrel Coleman’s second novel since he has taken over the Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series. Anyone that was a Parker fan and those new to the world of Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone should enjoy these stories.
Coleman expands on the supporting cast of characters he inherited from Parker, is able to create his own very well developed characters that add to the plotline, and allows the readers to learn more about the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts.
In this novel, the Paradise residents allow readers to see how the town developed over the years. The reason for this is that the story is both a cold case and a new case having to do with the town’s occupants. After a storm, three corpses are found, a man wrapped in a tarp along with the skeletal remains of two teenage girls. After being examined the girls are identified as Mary Kate O’Hara and Virginia Connolly, two 16-year-olds who vanished about 25 years earlier during a Fourth of July celebration. The crime predates Jesse’s arrival into Paradise and also involves one of his police officers, Molly Crane, who was good friends with the girls. Jesse is attempting to solve these murder mysteries but is stifled by the town’s tight lips and unsupportiveness.
Enjoying the supporting cast of characters, Coleman noted, “In some way this is a book about Molly. Her regrets are about her past boyfriends, wanting to be a big city cop, and her desire to be a patrol officer. She and Jesse are the central figures. In this book we see some of her personality other than the wise cracking person to Jesse. What I am doing with the series is writing the story of the supporting characters. There were about twelve books about Jesse and the supporting characters played minor roles. But all the characters are so rich I think there is an opportunity to write their stories. That is the genius of Robert Parker, he left space to explore these characters and the town of Paradise.”
For those readers new to the series Jesse Stone is a law enforcement officer in the mold of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch. They both have insecurities, and will push the line to make sure the victims gain justice. With both Jesse and Harry, they see themselves as providing victims a voice. But, Jesse is his own character since his life is based on regrets. He is more of the mold of the old west sheriff, a combination of Matt Dillon and Wyatt Earp.
Coleman commented to blackfive.net, “All Jesse Stone books to some extent are about regret and struggling. He is really a hands on guy who women adore. He is a tough guy, very athletic, one of the top former homicidal cops in Los Angeles, and currently the police chief of a beautiful New England town. Since there is not much fault to these attributes he has to have something the average person can relate with, which is his struggles with alcohol and his regret of being injured causing him to not have a professional baseball career. Because Bob Parker always thought of his characters in a western sort of way, I think the reality is Jesse is somewhere between Dillon and Earp.”
The author also gave a heads up that in January 2016 he is going to have his own book out. The main character, Gus Murphy, is a retired Suffolk County (Long Island, N.Y.) cop, who is happy with his life. Not an overly ambitious guy, he is satisfied to live a life of retirement, having a great pension, a wonderful wife, and two mostly grown children. But a family tragedy unravels his life. This first book begins two years after the tragedy. Gus finds his way back to life when he decides to help solve the murder of the son of someone he arrested years ago. Coleman is also busy with next year’s Jesse book, Debt To Pay, which will bring back Diana, the former FBI agent. She and Jesse are romantically involved and work on a case together as the villain Mr. Peppers makes a re-emergence.
Anyone looking for a good mystery should read Coleman. He has taken up the torch of Robert Parker and allowed Jesse Stone to grow as a character. His plots are action packed and fast moving while the characters are relatable and likeable. The Devil Wins is a riveting and suspenseful novel.