'Fool Me Twice' a great addition to Jesse Stone series


Though Michael Brandman’s first Jesse Stone novel, “Killing the Blues,” read somewhat like a teleplay for a TV movie, his newest venture into Jesse Stone territory, “Fool Me Twice,” hits the nail on the head. I loved his first book but enjoyed this one even more. He and fellow author Ace Atkins (Spenser’s “Lullaby”) now have the two main series by Robert B. Parker down pat.

The newest Jesse Stone novel has a big movie crew showing up into Paradise, Mass., to shoot a film with Marisol Hinton in it, Hollywood’s up-and-coming starlet. She has just separated from her husband, who is also an actor. Left penniless, he’s determined to extract his revenge by following her to Paradise and killing her to collect the insurance.

Stone suggests getting Marisol a bodyguard, and Wilson Cromartie (aka Crow) is hired. Crow is definitely a character I want to learn more about.

While that is going on, Chief Stone is the witness to a traffic accident involving a young debutante (Courtney Cassidy) who was texting on her cellphone instead of paying attention to the road. She gives Jesse a lot of attitude because her parents are wealthy, and he decides to go after her after everyone else advises him to drop the case. It isn’t long before he realizes Courtney is a troubled teen and is silently calling out for help.

Now, while those two scenarios are in place, Chief Stone receives some complaints from the local citizens about their high water bills. The problem here is that there was never a mention about any rate increases. Jesse has to find out if anything is going on under the table that may be illegal. Whoever thought water could be exciting, unless you’re stuck out in the desert without any.

Even while juggling three cases, our hero still has time to date the line producer (Francis “Frankie” Greenberg) of the movie being filmed. Jesse certainly hasn’t lost his touch with the ladies. Fortunately for Jesse and the readers, his ex-wife Jenn is barely mentioned in the book, plus he’s cut back on his drinking. Also, as any reader can vouch for, none of Jesse’s relationships ever amount to anything.

The writing in “Fool Me Twice” is somewhat reminiscent of Parker’s style but is still Brandman’s own. He has the dialogue and subtle nuances pitch perfect, the story structure down, the character development right, the numerous twists and turns are there, and of course there's a satisfying finale. In other words, Brandman is definitely the man when it comes to writing Jesse Stone either for the literary community or the viewing audience.

Wayne C. Rogers is the author of the horror novellas “The Encounter” and “The Tunnels,” both of which can be purchased at Amazon’s Kindle Store for 99 cents each.