Jesse Stone character was created by Robert B. Parker. An Army veteran and well-known author with nearly 70 books in his catalog. In the Army, he deployed to Korea and was well versed as a Morse code-radio operator. His last book, Split Image, also a Jesse Stone novel was published in 2010 after he passed away. The series was initially continued by author Michael Brandman and most recently, Reed Farrel Coleman. This is Coleman’s sixth Jesse Stone novel, the New York Times bestselling author has over 30 books, short stories and poetry on his resume.
Who is Jesse Stone? A former baseball shortstop, former homicide detective in the rough streets of Los Angeles. Current Chief of police in a small town of Paradise, just a short drive from the city of Boston. Stone is very much a human, he has issues, he’s a troubled man. He’s suffered loss, addiction and humility throughout the series. He has however earned the respect of his fellow officers and is still a work in progress in The Bitterest Pill. Stone is also portrayed in a series of straight to television movie specials from CBS and recently the Hallmark channel, starring Tom Selleck.
Before The Bitterest Pill starts, Reed Farrel Coleman placed a quote from author Don Winslow. “Fifty years and a trillion dollars after we declared the war on drugs, drugs are now more prevalent, cheaper, and more potent than ever before. If this is victory, I’d hate to see defeat.” This quote is also mentioned by Jesse Stone in the novel and is very fitting.
This novel starts with a young beautiful teenager, Heather dying of an overdose. Jesse Stone, the chief of police in his small town of Paradise investigates. The first question, was this an intentional OD or accidental? The second question, where are these drugs coming from? Heroin has always been a bad addictive drug, but since fentanyl has been introduced as a way to boost the potency, now it’s fifty to a hundred times more powerful. It can kill even long-time addicts, and someone like Heather, a new user.. never stood a chance.
As Stone investigates he learns that there’s a network in place. Someone is targeting people who have developed an addiction, usually because of an unrelated accident. In Heather’s case, she hurt her back during cheerleading and the pain was unbearable, her doctor prescribed Vicodin and from there she got hooked. After her prescription ran out, nothing would stop her from getting her fix. As was the case with other characters we meet in the book. Sex, lying, and stealing from family and friends, nothing was off limits to regain that magical cure.
The people running the network are as deadly as they are greedy. At a moment’s notice, they will ensure their criminal organization is not threatened. Utilizing muscle that has no remorse, they not only follow orders, but enjoy putting the hurt on anyone that requires it. Even fantasize about how they can get pleasure out of certain people that need disappearing. This novel shows that the addicted are not the sole victims, but willing participants at all levels of the organization are at risk when Stone gets close and the decision is made to get rid of all loose ends. At one point, even Stone himself is targeted.
The Bitterest Pill is a novel that paints an all too real image on the war on drugs, addiction, and the length people will go through to reach that next high. This well written novel does a fantastic job keeping you on your toes, guessing as to who is ultimately responsible, who could it be that is described doing such heinous acts to achieve their goal. Coleman does a good job keeping up with suspense as well, with danger almost always just a heart beat away.
Author: Reed Farrel Coleman
Series: Jessie Stone # 18
Pages: 352 Hardcover
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Follow Reed on Twitter: @ReedFColeman
Lima Charlie Rating: A BLAST RADIUS OF: AN ARTILLERY PROJECTILE (7/10) – 155 mm High Explosive Projectile fired from Medium Towed Howitzer fires a High Explosive round up to 30 klicks, with a blast radius of 50 meters and a casualty radius of 100 meters. What makes this weapon so great is its range and speed. Artillery crews can fire up to 5 rounds per minute, with each battery in the Marine Corps having six per gun line, that’s 30 rounds per minute down range. Its why they call it “steel rain.” And artillery men are called “King of Battle.”
About Robert B. Parker
Robert B. Parker’s résumé is familiar to most of his readers. Born and raised in Massachusetts, graduated from Colby College in Maine, married Joan Hall, had two sons, earned his Ph.D. at Boston University, taught at Northeastern University, and wrote nearly seventy books.
There are other factoids about him that are less well known. Bob’s talent for rhythm was first put to work when the U.S. Army sent him to Korea as a Morse code radio operator. He always wanted to be a writer, but he needed a steady income to support his young wife and, later, his sons. Bob was hired as a technical writer first for Raytheon and then for Curtiss-Wright, which soon laid him off. He next worked as editor of a magazine for Prudential insurance agents and freelanced as a partner in Parker/Farman, the “world’s smallest advertising agency.”
Unable to take any more of corporate America, and with no interest in advertising, Bob returned to school. The plan was to earn a doctorate, get a job teaching, and have the time to start writing seriously. While going to school, he held down as many as five college teaching jobs at once, often took care of his sons, and did odd jobs for a consulting company. Fortunately for the family, Joan had a job in education that paid well.
The plan worked, and as a teacher at Northeastern University, Bob found the time to write. He was one of four authors of an anthology textbook, The Personal Response to Literature, published in 1971. Two years later, the first Spenser novel, The Godwulf Manuscript, appeared.
Bob was renowned for his Spenser novels, featuring the wise-cracking, street-smart Boston private-eye, which earned him a devoted following and reams of critical acclaim. He also launched two other bestselling series featuring, respectively, Massachusetts police chief Jesse Stone and Boston private detective Sunny Randall. In addition, he authored four Westerns. Bob’s bestselling Western novel Appaloosa was made into a major motion picture by New Line, starred Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen, and was a box office hit in 2008. Long acknowledged as the dean of American crime fiction, he was named Grand Master of the Edgar Awards in 2002 by the Mystery Writers of America, an honor shared with earlier masters such as Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen.
About Reed Farrel Coleman
Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the noir poet laureate in the Huffington Post, Reed Farrel Coleman is the New York Times-bestselling author of thirty novels—including five in Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series—short stories, poetry, and essays.
In addition to his acclaimed series characters, Moe Prager and Gus Murphy, he has written the stand-alone novel Gun Church and collaborated with decorated Irish crime writer Ken Bruen on the novel Tower.
Reed is a four-time Edgar Award nominee in three different categories: Best Novel, Best Paperback Original, and Best Short Story. He is a four-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel of the Year. He has also won the Audie, Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards. He has been signed by film director Michael Mann to write the prequel novel to the movie “Heat.”
With their kids moved away to far off Brooklyn, Reed, his wife Rosanne, and their two Siamese cats, Cleo and Knish, live in the wilds of Suffolk County on Long Island.