Robert B. Parker's Fool Me Twice by Michael Brandman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pop quiz. If you were the chief of police in a small town, which of these issues would be your top priority?
1) A movie production has started filming, and in addition to all the logistical headaches that creates, the lead actress is worried about her safety because she’s trying to divorce her drug addicted husband who has physically assaulted her in the past.
2) Officials at the local water company may have been rigging the meter readings to overcharge customers which would be a criminal conspiracy that affected the entire town.
3) One bratty rich girl keeps driving while texting despite repeated warnings.
If you answered #3, congratulations! You’d be just as bad a cop as Jesse Stone.
To be fair, the rich brat did cause a serious traffic accident, and her parents are major league assholes so it is a legit problem. However, while facing the other two issues Jesse chooses to delegate most everything related to the movie production to one of his officers while arranging for a guy he once pursued as a dangerous criminal to be the actress’ bodyguard. Plus, even when he suspects the water commissioner of shenanigans Jesse doesn’t call in some accountants or utilities experts to perform an audit and investigation, he just kind of casually happens to talk to the people at the water company involved in the fraud. Hell, he doesn’t even check his own water bill to see if anything looks off.
Instead, most of his focus and action is directed towards dealing with the young lady who is a chronic texter while driving. Again, I know this is a serious problem, but even when Jesse manages to get some legal action taken against her he also continues to involve himself with the idea of turning the girl around for the better. Noble, but as I’ve outlined here, he’s really got better things to do. So no surprise that everything goes to hell on him.
This seems to be all part of a weird situation with this series at this time. After Robert B. Parker’s death his family chose Michael Brandman to continue it, and since Brandman had been the writer/producer of a series of pretty good TV movies based on these books that made a lot of sense. Yet in these first two books he did Jesse really comes across as a cop who abuses his power over trivial matters while ignoring major situations.
It’s not surprising to me then that Brandman only did one more of these before the series was handed over to Reed Farrel Coleman. The writing is decent enough and mimics the style of Parker, but the plotting choices make Jesse out to be pretty awful at his job.
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