Late summer and Paradise, Massachusetts has been pretty calm. The biggest issue has been some petty vandalism. For Police Chief Jesse Stone the break from anything significant has been good as he is a bit preoccupied with his personal life. On the plus side, there is Diana who is becoming increasingly important to him and the feeling seems to be mutual. He is also working on his sobriety and making a definite effort to resist the deeply ingrained ritual of drinking.
On the negative side, Jesse is coming to the realization that his diamond skills are diminishing. Age does that to all ball players and there comes a time when the player can no longer compete at the level he or she set for herself long ago. There is also the fact that Jenn is getting married again and has invited him to her wedding to Hale Hunsicker down in Dallas. The wedding is set for October and after a lot of thought about their past Jesse has decided to tell her he won’t be there.
His plan to skip the wedding begins to change when Vinnie Morris contacts him about the sudden death of Gino Fish. The mobster supposedly killed his current male secretary and then himself. That is what the Boston police believe and they are not about to listen to anything Vinnie has to say. Vinnie does not believe that Gino would have done either act despite the fact that all the evidence seems to indicate that is exactly what happened. He wants Jesse to look into it and is calling due the favor Jesse promised Gino awhile back for his help on a case.
Jesse agrees to look into the situation. He soon realizes that the serial killer they know as “Mr. Peepers” is back and seeking vengeance. He plans to kill everyone on his payback list while playing an elaborate mid game with them. It isn’t enough to just kill those he holds responsible. He wants to hurt them first by killing those they care about. For Jesse, that means Diana as well as Jenn down in Dallas are at high risk.
Shifting in character point of view as well as by location, the chase for Mr. Peepers goes from New England, to Dallas, and back again. Readers know from nearly the start as they spend time with the killer why things are happening the way they do. As a result, this is not a mystery read, but a thriller style read where the hunt is on for the bad guy before he can kill again and again.
Debt To Pay is also a turning point novel for several of the characters including Jesse. Even if one had not read the recent interview with author Reed Farrel Coleman, it is clear that some things are being wrapped up to start Jesse on a new course. By the end of the read, it is clear that nothing will ever be the same.
As one expects there will be complaints from some that this novel does not read exactly like it would if Robert B. Parker was still doing them. It does not. It comes very close and does so while creating a highly entertaining read that continues the series.
Because numerous events that occurred in Blind Spot are referenced and heavily discussed, as they are a major plot point of Debt To Pay, I would suggest reading that book first. I would also suggest reading the very interesting interview, You Don’t Ask a Praying Mantis Why: MysteryPeople Q&A with Reed Farrel Coleman , after reading the book as there are things in it that could be construed as spoilers.
Robert B. Parker’s Debt To Pay
Reed Farrel Coleman
G. P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Random House LLC)
Hardback (also available in large print hardback, audio, and eBook formats)
I won the book via a contest at Lesa’s Book Critiques.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2016