Putnam, Oct 2003, 24.95, 336 pp.
When his marriage to Jenn broke up, Jesse Stone left California and accepted a job as chief of police in Paradise, Massachusetts. Jenn followed soon after and although they see each other on occasion, they also date other people. Jesse tells every woman he's involved with that he's still in love with Jenn and until she tells him it's over, he won't commit to anyone else.
Usually Paradise is a quiet little town but now Jesse is working on two cases that are particularly ugly. Three young men rape a teenage girl in her school and they threaten to show pictures of her during the sexual assault if she reports it to the police. Jesse wants to find a way to charge the young men while keeping the girl's name out of it. The second case is even more horrifying. A husband and wife team picks out a victim at random, stalks him, and they both simultaneously kill him with identical weapons. Jesse, who knows he's their next target, sets up a trap using himself as bait but they evade it and ride off into the sunset.
Comparisons between Spenser and Jesse are inevitable. Spenser is self assured and confident of Susan's love while Jesse is vulnerable and has no idea if he and Jenn will ever get together. Spenser, as a PI, sometimes bends or breaks the rules while Jesse adheres to them. STONE CUTS' protagonist is more interesting because readers don't know what Robert B. Parker will do next with his character. Stark prose and plenty of action is what this novel is all about.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner