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ROBERT B. PARKER'S COLORBLIND by Reed Farrel Coleman

Book design by Lucia Bernard
In Reed Farrel Coleman's fifth Jesse Stone continuation, the Paradise, Massachusetts police chief is back from a stint in alcohol rehab, investigating a racially-motivated assault that has left African American Felicity Wileford near death. With racial tensions on the rise in Paradise and the surrounding towns, Alisha Davis, the only black Paradise PD officer, is accused of shooting an unarmed white man.

Thanks to the third-person, multi-viewpoint style of the Jesse Stone books, readers find out very soon that a racist militia looking to spread is behind both incidents. As a longtime Parker and Coleman fan, I was more intrigued by the predicaments Jesse and Alisha faced because of the incidents than any sense of mystery.

On the personal front, Robert B. Parker's Colorblind marks Jesse's first authentic attempt to stop drinking, by attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. This gives longtime readers a fresh look at what had been relegated to a background vice in Parker's and Michael Brandman's books and the Tom Selleck movies. Jesse would conveniently sober up just in time and long enough to save the day.

While the investigation into Alisha's shooting—the most compelling part of the book—is out of Jesse's control, he faces some fallout trying to get at the truth of what happened.

The novel's strength is that it doesn't feel like a story; everything doesn't tie up neatly. It's very clear Coleman is holding a mirror up to America's real racist threat, making this his most powerful continuation to date.

Robert B. Parker's Colorblind goes on sale September 11.

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