Monday, April 03, 2006

Parker: Sea Change

First, I need to apologize for the hiatus. I've been in the throes of finding my dream job (keep your fingers crossed; I should hear later this week) and haven't been reading much fiction. Samantha Tippy has been much more dilligent, so everyone who's feeling withdrawal, go check out her site. I'll probably be sporadic for a month or so.

But first, a quick word on the new Parker novel, Sea Change. I've been impressed with Parker's Jesse Stone series, which feature a recovering (or is he?) alcoholic cop from L.A. who takes a job as a police chief in Paradise, MA. Jesse is funny, and interesting, and most impressively, he isn't Spenser (Parker's better-known detective). Spenser, although I enjoy reading about him and although he cooks a lot more than Jesse, is pretty static as a character, while Jesse actually has been developing. I think Parker's decision to write the Jesse Stone's in third person has been sound, because that way he won't have to fight the tendency to have Jesse's narratorial "voice" sound like Spenser, and the rest of the developments have worked out accordingly. Admittedly, Jesse and his ex-wife Jen have had some conversations that sound like Spenser and his girlfriend, Susan, but on the whole they have been kept distinct.

Sea Change features a murder during the big tourist / party season in Paradise, and Jesse has to solve the murder of a woman whose body washes ashore while dealing with the rich socialites who are in town on their yachts for the month. The interactions with the wealthy owners, some of whom are involved in shady dealing, make for fun reading--you know Jesse will get the better of them, and you're just waiting to see how. The plot takes a pretty dark turn, although I think this book is lighter than the last Spenser novel (see my review of School Days below). I do have to say that I'm disappointed in the editing of the book, though. Parker is a cash machine for his publishers, and has been cranking out a few (short) books a year. Given that he's on that kind of schedule, the press really ought to put more people on helping with the editing. There's a scene on p. 179 in which Kelly Cruz, a Florida cop who is helping Jesse, interviews a marina owner:

"Two of most things are better than one, " Kelly Cruz said.
"Absolutely, Detective Kelly Cruz."
"Kelly's my first name."
Bob grinned at her.
"I figured you weren't Irish," he said.

The only way that dialogue makes any sense is if you drop out the "Cruz" at the end of the second sentence. "Absolutely, Detective Kelly" would explain her comment that Kelly was her first name, and "Kelly" is an Irish surname, while "Cruz" isn't. This isn't the only editing flaw in the book, but this one actually takes all the impact out of the exchange between the characters.

Still, if you like Parker but think Spenser has gotten stagnant, try Jesse Stone. It's a fun read if you're willing to forgive the poor editing.

In recipe news: I made up another side dish!

1 bunch asparagus
1 pint radishes
1 cucumber
2 tbspn (?) sour cream
2 tbspn (?) fresh dill, snipped
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil

Trim the asparagus and put it in a shallow dish. Coat with lemon juice, then olive oil, and cook it on a broiling pan under the broiler for 5-8 min or until cooked to desired consistency. Allow to cool to room temperature. Peel and seed cucumber and cut into 1-inch pieces. Chop radishes into matchstick-sized pieces. Chop asparagus into 1-inch pieces, and combine the vegetables in a salad bowl. Mix together dill and sour cream, and combine with the vegetables (use more or less sour cream mixture depending on how much you like). Serve at room temp.

Of my 4 tasters, 1 didn't think she liked asparagus or dill, and 1 didn't think he liked dill and only sort of tolerated asparagus. The other two of us thought we'd like it. The bowl was empty after dinner, and the two biggest eaters were the two who didn't think they'd like it.


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