Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

SPLIT IMAGE by Robert B. Parker

Although Split Image is referenced as a Jesse Stone novel, it prominently features private detective Sunny Randall equally. And the two cases are entirely split, as the title suggests, as well as the characters themselves.

Police Chief Jesse Stone focuses on the murder of a local mob guy, while Sunny Randall tries to investigate a young woman that has joined a local religious group in Paradise. The stories both predominantly take place in Jesse’s territory, but Sunny’s story veers in its own direction and stays there.

I’ve been waiting for this book, hoping that it might offer some resolution concerning Jesse’s relationship with his ex-wife Jenn, and equally hopeful that Sunny would get over her ex, Richie. The big hope was that they would somehow find a relationship together.

Thankfully, this novel does provide some of that, though it doesn’t give us any final answers. But I don’t need a final answer with this one. The hope is enough. I thought it was interesting the way Parker plays the characters together and apart, and with their respective psychiatric counselors. I was surprised to learn that in many way Sunny and Jesse were more different than I’d previously believed. The way Parker lays this out makes sense, though.

The respective cases are kind of thin, though. Neither of them are something long-time readers haven’t seen before and come to expect from the author. Jesse’s case focuses on strange and strained sexual congress, this time with identical twins affectionately known as the Bang Bang Sisters (I have to wonder if Parker was inspired by the movie title The Banger Sisters). Despite all the mobbed up guys hanging around on the pages, there’s just not enough action in this one. I wanted fights, car chases, and more menace. All the violence in this one takes place off screen.

Sunny’s case is a little different. Spike, her quasi-partner in her investigations, gets into a proper dust-up that serves to whet the appetite, but then nothing. The investigation flips back and forth as to who’s truly to blame and which is the greater evil in the long run.

The pages turned easily in this novel, as they always do, and I felt mostly satisfied when I finished. I have to admit that my feelings were mixed on this one. This is the first Parker book I’ve read since the author’s death. I’ve been reading him for thirty years, and thankfully I’ve got a couple more coming before his last book is published. But I was saddened to think that I’m slowly saying goodbye to this writer and all the characters that have given me such pleasure for so many years.


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