I love to read anything by Robert B. Parker. His characters are so vivid, complex, and compelling that I just want to keep on reading even when the book is done. Spenser, a hardboiled but sensitive Boston PI, was one of my favorite characters of all time. But I’m beginning to love Jesse Stone, an alcoholic police chief of Paradise, Mass. As adept he is at understanding the crime solving process, he is inept at understanding his relationship with his ex-wive, Jenn.
But why I enjoy reading Parker is his mastery of dialog. Here are some examples from High Profile, his latest book. These are conversations between Chief Jesse Stone and one of his policemen, Suitcase Simpson.
After an interview with Conrad Lutz, who would later become a suspect in a multiple homicide:
“It means Lutz lied to us,” he said.
“Or at least left stuff out,” Jesse said.
“We maybe should ask him about that?” Suit said.
“Sooner or later,” Jesse said.
“First, you want to get all your ducks in a row?”
“I’d settle for getting them herded into the same area,” Jesse said.
After a visit from the Governor:
“What I like,” Suit said, “is the guv comes up here to let the press look at him and blows a lot of smoke about how he wants the case solved, and the only thing he did helpful he doesn’t even know it.”
“He was annoyed that I asked about it,” Jesse said.
“Just another empty shirt and tie,” Suit said. “Why the hell are they all like that.”
Jesse shrugged and shook his head.
“It’s the kind of guy the job attracts.”
“No good guys?”
“Few,” Jesse said. “Would you want to be governor?”
“Christ, no,” Suit said.
“Too much bullshit,” Suit said.
“So who would want that kind of a job?” Jesse said.
“A bullshitter,” Suit said.
Jesse smiled at him.
“If you’re good with a hammer, ” Jesse said, “You look for a nail.”
“Wow,” Suit said. “No wonder you made chief.”
While staking out Lorrie Weeks’ condo in New York:
“We couldn’t afford to live in there,” Suit said, looking up at the glass towers.
“No,” Jesse said.
“Fits nice into the neighborhood,” Suit said.
“Like a hooker at a picnic,” Jesse said.
“What are we hoping, exactly, to see?” Suit said.
“Lorrie Pilarcik Weeks,” Jesse said.
“And when we see her?”
“We watch her,” Jesse said.
“Because she’s all we’ve got?”
“Exactly,” Jesse said.
“And we don’t know what else to do?”
“Precisely,” Jesse said.
“It’s great to train under a master,” Suit said.
“I envy you the experience,” Jesse said.
© 2007 – 2008, J. M. Erickson. All rights reserved.