A Book Spy Review: ‘Robert B. Parker’s The Hangman’s Sonnet’ by Reed Farrel Coleman

51cok83-cCL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgJesse Stone is back following the events of 2016’s Robert B. Parker’s Debt to Payand the wounds from that book carry over into Reed Ferrel Coleman’s new novel, The Hangman’s Sonnet.

Stone, the police chief of Paradise, Massachusets, is still grieving the loss of the woman he cared deeply for. To dull the pain, Jesse has taken to self-medicating as he attempts to drown his sorrows in the bottom of one too many scotch bottles.

On the day his protégé, Suitcase Simpson, is set to get married, Jesse finds out that a big 75th birthday bash is being held for the once-famous folk singer, Terry Jester. The event is a security nightmare and the last thing Stone wants to deal with, wishing instead that he could just see Simpson on her wedding day and then go back to drinking himself numb.

Back in the day, Jester was a big star, but he’s since spent the last forty years living the life of a hermit. Now he’s set to step out of the shadows for the first time in decades and hopes to mark the occasion by finally releasing “The Hangman’s Sonnet,” a star-studded album that Jester had recorded as his big comeback to the music scene. The only problem is, the master tape of the album was stolen decades prior–an event that played a big role in Jester’s shutting himself in and the rest of the world out.

After a break-in turns deadly, Jesse connects the dots back to Jester’s album, realizing that the burglars may have been searching for the master tape. What he’s not sure of, though, is whether or not the robbers found “The Hangman’s Sonnet,” or how the elderly Maude Cain would have gotten her hands on such an item in the first place.

As Jesse does his best to work with Jester’s representatives to make sure the birthday bash goes off without a hitch, he also tangles with Mayor Constance Walker, who’d taken issue with Stone’s attendance record and lack of drive as he navigates through the painful loss of his fiancée. While their relationship has never been great, it reaches a new low, causing Stone a bigger headache than his boozing and the Jester bash had already caused him.

Struggling to find the necessary motivation to care about anything–including his job–Jesse Stone must sift through a growing list of suspects in order to figure out who’s killing in order to get their hands on “The Hangman’s Sonnet,” and what, exactly, led to its disappearance years earlier.

Reed Ferrel Coleman has been on a hot streak lately, both with his own books (What You Break is phenomenal) and his contributions to Robert B. Parker’s series. While Jesse Stone might not be quite as popular as Parker’s Spencer series, Coleman continues to elevate this franchise to new heights as he once again finds a perfect balance between advancing the plot forward and developing the characters.

While the ending may be a tad predictable, the story is entertaining and well-written. Reed Ferrel Coleman knows how to hold readers’ attention, and his latest plot will have Jesse Stone fans feeling for the broken, saddened police chief as he races to solve the case before it’s too late. 

Book Details

Author: Reed Ferrel Coleman
Series: Jesse Stone #16
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399171444
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10
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