This is a short fragment for review the book. The full version can be purchased in the store.
Stranger in Paradise
THE SPENSER NOVELS
Now & Then
Pale Kings and Princes
Taming a Sea-Horse
A Catskill Eagle
The Widening Gyre
A Savage Place
Looking for Rachel Wallace
The Judas Goat
God Save the Child
The Godwulf Manuscript
THE JESSE STONE NOVELS
Death in Paradise
Trouble in Paradise
THE SUNNY RANDALL NOVELS
ALSO BY ROBERT B. PARKER
All Our Yesterdays
A Year at the Races
(with Joan H. Parker)
Perchance to Dream
(with Raymond Chandler)
Love and Glory
Three Weeks in Spring
(with Joan H. Parker)
Training with Weights
(with John R. Marsh)
Stranger in Paradise
ROBERT B. PARKER
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
Publishers Since 1838
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA •
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) • Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi–110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Copyright © 2008 by Robert B. Parker
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
Published simultaneously in Canada
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Parker, Robert B., date.
Stranger in paradise / Robert B. Parker.
1. Stone, Jesse (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Police—Massachusetts—Fiction. 3. Kidnapping—Fiction. 4. Police chiefs—Fiction. 5. Massachusetts—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3566.A686S77 2008b 2007044773
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
For Joan: with whom I am no stranger
Stranger in Paradise
Molly Crane stuck her head in the doorway to Jesse’s office.
“Man here to see you,” she said. “Says his name’s Wilson Cromartie.”
Jesse looked up. His eyes met Molly’s. Neither of them said anything. Then Jesse stood. His gun was in its holster on the file cabinet behind him. He took the gun from the holster and sat back down and put the gun in the top right-hand drawer of his desk and left the drawer open.
“Show him in,” Jesse said.
Molly went and in a moment returned with the man.
Jesse nodded his head.
“Crow,” he said.
“Jesse Stone,” Crow said.
Jesse pointed at a chair. Crow sat. He looked at the file cabinet.
“Empty holster,” he said.
“Gun’s in my desk drawer,” Jesse said.
“And the drawer’s open,” Crow said.
Crow smiled. He seemed entirely calm. But so much energy had been compressed into his physical self that he seemed ready to explode.
“No need,” Crow said.
“Good to know,” Jesse said.
“But you’re not shutting the drawer,” Crow said.
“No,” Jesse said.
Crow smiled again. It was hard to say exactly what it was, Jesse thought, but there was a vague trace of American Indian in his features, and his speech. Maybe he really was Apache.
“Nothing wrong with cautious,” Crow said.
“Last time I saw you was in a speedboat dashing off with a lot of money,” Jesse said.
“Long time back,” Crow said. “Longer than the statute of limitations.”
“I’d have to check,” Jesse said.
“I did,” Crow said. “Ten years.”
“Not for murder,” Jesse said.
“You got no evidence I had anything to do with murder.”
“Homicide during the commission of a felony,” Jesse said.
“I doubt you could prove that,” Crow said. “All you know is I was with some people, and then I drove away in a speedboat to escape a shoot-out.”
“With a guy who turned up dead, in a boat that turned up empty.”
“Can’t tell you about that,” Crow said. “I got off the boat five miles up the coast.”
“So you didn’t come here to turn yourself in,” Jesse said.
“I got some business in Paradise,” Crow said. “I come here to see that you and I wouldn’t be scraping up against each other while I was here.”
“Two of my cops died when the bridge to Stiles Island got blown,” Jesse said. “Some people on the island.”
“Yeah,” Crow said. “Macklin was a bad guy.”
“And you?” Jesse said.
“Pussycat,” Crow said.
“You gonna be in town long?” Jesse said.
“Awhile,” Crow said.
“Why?” Jesse said.
“I’m looking for someone,” Crow said.
“Guy hired me,” Crow said.
“I’m good at stuff like that,” Crow said. “The guy trusts me.”
He grinned at Jesse.
“And,” he said, “I know the territory.”
“Me, too,” Jesse said.
“I know,” Crow said. “And if we can’t coexist it’ll make my job a lot harder. That’s why I stopped by.”
“Who you looking for?” Jesse said.
“Don’t have a name,” Crow said.
“Ever seen him?”
Crow shook his head.
“Got a picture?”
“Not a good one,” Crow said.
“Want to show it to me?” Jesse said.
“So how you going to find him?’
“I’ll work something out,” Crow said.
“What happens when you find him?”
“I report to my employer,” Crow said.
Jesse nodded slowly. “As long as I have you in town,” he said, “I’m going to do everything I can to put together a case against you.”
“I figured that,” Crow said. “I say you won’t be able to.”
“Limitation is sort of complicated,” Jesse said. “There was bank robbery involved, kidnapping, these fall under federal statutes. I’ll talk to an ADA tomorrow, see what they can tell me.”
“Ten years covers most things,” Crow said.
“We’re going to watch you all the time you’re in town,” Jesse said.
“But you’re not going to harass me.”
“If we can put a case together on you, we’ll arrest you,” Jesse said.
“Until then?” Crow said.
“We’ll wait and watch,” Jesse said.
Crow nodded. The two men sat silently until Crow spoke.
“You know about me,” he said.
“I checked you out,” Jesse said. “When you were here before.”
“What they tell you,” Crow said.
“Be very careful,” Jesse said.
“Macklin was good,” Crow said.
“I wasn’t sure anybody could take him,” Crow said.
“Except you?” Jesse said.
“Now you know,” Jesse said.
Crow nodded. They were quiet again. Both men motionless, looking at each other.
“You let the hostages go,” Jesse said.
“They were all women,” he said.
“Yes,” Jesse said.
They looked at each other some more. The room felt charged, Jesse thought, as if a thunderstorm were near. Then Crow rose gracefully to his feet.
“I guess we know where we stand,” Crow said.
“Stop by anytime,” Jesse said.
Crow smiled and went out the door, past Suitcase Simpson, who was leaning on the wall just to the right of Jesse’s door, and past Molly Crane, who was on the other side.
Crow nodded at them both.
“Officers,” he said.
And went on out of the station.
Molly and Suit came into the office.
“I remember him,” Simpson said.
“I called Suit in from patrol,” Molly said. “I thought extra backup would be good.”
“What’d he want?” Suit said.
Jesse told them.
“Brazen bastard,” Simpson said.
Molly and Jesse both looked at him.
“Brazen?” Molly said.
“I been taking some night courses,” he said.
“You have no idea who he’s looking for?” Molly said to Jesse.
Jesse shook his head. “I’m not sure Crow does, either,” he said.
“He say what he’d do when he found him?” Molly said.
“Said he’d check with his employer.”
“Guy like that looking for somebody,” Simpson said, “not good for the somebody.”
“No, it’s not,” Jesse said.
“Think he’ll find him?” Molly said.
“Hard to make a ten-year-old case,” Molly said.
“Isn’t he some kind of Indian?” Simpson said.
“Claims he’s Apache,” Jesse said.
“You believe him?”
“He’s something,” Jesse said.
“He’s a hunk,” Molly said.
“A hunk?” Simpson said.
“He’s absolutely gorgeous,” Molly said.
“Isn’t he a contract killer, Jesse?” Simpson said.
“That’s what they tell me,” Jesse said. “Probably part of his charm.”
“Probably is,” Molly said. “It makes him sort of exciting.”
“Not if the contract’s on you,” Jesse said.
“No, but there’s something about how complete he is, how, what, interior, independent.”
“Power,” Jesse said.
“Yes,” Molly said. “He reeks of power.”
“I guess I better take more night courses,” Simpson said. “I don’t know what you people are talking about.”
“He’s a little like you, Jesse,” Molly said.
“Except that I just reek.”
“No. You have that same silent center. Nothing will make you turn aside. Nothing will make you back up. It’s…what do the shrinks call it…?”
“Autonomy,” Jesse said.
“Yes. Both of you are, like, autonomous,” Molly said. “Except maybe you have scruples.”
“Maybe he does, too,” Jesse said.
“For fantasy purposes,” Molly said, “I hope not.”
“Fantasy?” Simpson said. “Molly, how long you been married?”
“And you got how many kids?”
“And you are going to have sex fantasies about some Apache hit man?”
Molly smiled at Simpson.
“You better believe it,” Molly said.
“I wish to have nothing to do with this,” Mrs. Snowdon said when Molly showed her a picture of Crow.
“Have you ever seen him before?” Molly said.
They were in the vast Snowdon living room in the huge Snowdon house on Stiles Island. Mrs. Snowdon sat on her couch with her feet on the floor and her knees pressed together and her hands clasped tightly in her lap. Suit stood across the room by the French doors to the patio. Molly sat on a hassock across from Mrs. Snowdon.
She looks too small for the gun belt, Suit thought. But she’s not.
“Was he here with other men when they looted the island,” Molly said, “and locked you and your husband up in the lavatory?”
“Late husband,” Mrs. Snowdon said.
Her blue steel hair was rigidly waved. She wore a black-and-red flowered dress and a red scarf, and a very large diamond-crusted wedding ring.
“Was this man in the picture one of the men?” Molly said.
“I don’t wish to discuss it,” Mrs. Snowdon said.
“Are you afraid?”
“My husband is deceased,” Ms. Snowdon said. “I am a woman alone.”
“The best way to ensure your safety is to give us reason to arrest him.”
“I will not even consider it,” Mrs. Snowdon said. “It was a moment in my life I decline to relive.”
“Has he threatened you?”
“Threatened? He’s here? In Paradise?”
“My God, why don’t you arrest him?”
Standing by the door, Suitcase smiled without comment.
“If you’d help us,” Molly said.
“I’m not a policeman,” she said. “It’s your job to arrest him.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Molly said. “But we’re not allowed to arrest anybody we feel like. At the moment our only hope would be that he could be charged with participating in a capital crime. Otherwise the statute of limitations applies.”
“He has to have killed someone?”
“Someone had to die in a criminal enterprise of which he was a member,” Molly said.
“Oh, God,” Mrs. Snowdon said. “Gobbledygook. A number of people were killed, weren’t they?”
“We have to be able to demonstrate this man’s involvement,” Molly said.
“Well, I’m not going to do your job for you,” Mrs. Snowdon said. “What kind of job is this for a young woman? Why aren’t you making a home for a husband and children?”
“I do that, too,” Molly said.
She and Mrs. Snowdon stared at each other silently. Molly looked at Suit. Suit shrugged.
“I don’t think you need to worry about him,” Molly said. “He doesn’t appear to have any interest in anyone from his last visit.”
Mrs. Snowdon sat rigidly and said nothing. Molly let out some breath and stood.
“Thanks for your time,” she said. “We can find our way out.”
Mrs. Snowdon didn’t speak, and they left her there, sitting in her iron silence.
Jesse took Marcy Campbell to supper at the Gray Gull. It was June. They sat outside on the deck next to the harbor. It was still light and there was still activity in the harbor.
“Things not working well with your ex-wife?” Marcy said.
Marcy had platinum hair and wore skillful makeup. She was older than Jesse but still good-looking, and clearly sexual. Jesse knew that from experience. But he had also known it before he had the experience. Jesse always wondered how he could tell. He never did quite know, only that there were women who were insistently aware of their bodies, and of their sex. And somehow by posture or magic they communicated that awareness as insistently as they felt it. Marcy was the gold standard for such women.
“You think I only show up when there’s a problem with Jenn?”
“Yes,” Marcy said, and grinned at him. “Fortunately for me, it happens enough so that I see you a lot.”
“Course of true love,” Jesse said, “never did run smooth.”
“You and me? Or you and Jenn?”
“True love? Both.”
“Wouldn’t it be pretty to think so?” Marcy said.
“I love you, Marce, you know that.”
“Like a sister,” Marcy said.
“Not quite like a sister,” Jesse said.
“No,” Marcy said, “you’re right. Not like a sister.”
The waitress brought Marcy some white wine and Jesse an iced tea. Marcy looked at the tea.
“Off the booze again?”
“Got no plan,” Jesse said. “Tonight I thought iced tea would be nice.”
“Got any other plans for the night?” Marcy said.
“Let’s see what develops,” Jesse said.
They read their menus, Marcy got a second wine, Jesse got a second iced tea. The waitress took their food order and headed for the kitchen. The shipyard next to the Gray Gull was silent now, and in the harbor the last of the evening boats were coming back through the gathering evening.
“Of course you remember the events on Stiles Island ten years ago,” Jesse said.
Marcy seemed to immobilize for a moment like a freeze-frame in a movie.
Then she said, “When I was tied up and gagged and threatened with death by a bunch of cutthroats? Those events?”
“You do remember,” Jesse said.
“I wish I didn’t,” she said. “Forced to think about it, I also remember that you came and saved me.”
Jesse nodded. The waitress returned with their salads. They didn’t speak while she set them down and left.
“You remember one of them? An Indian? A man named Crow?” Jesse said.
Marcy again had a freeze-frame moment. It lasted longer than the first one had.
“My protector,” she said.
“He’s passed the statute of limitations,” Jesse said. “But if I can get a witness or two to say he was involved in a felony that resulted in homicide, even if he didn’t do the killing, I can get around the statute.”
She shook her head.
“You won’t be a witness?”
“Yes,” Marcy said. “Stockholm syndrome, gratitude, call it what you will. I was lying on my back with my hands and feet tied and my mouth taped. There were five bad men in the room involved in a crime that would send them all to jail forever if they got caught.”
Jesse nodded. “So they had nothing much to lose,” he said.
“Nothing,” Marcy said. “I was helpless, and they were free to do anything they wanted to with me. I couldn’t resist. I couldn’t even speak. About all I could do was wiggle. Can you even imagine what that is like?”
“No,” Jesse said.
“That’s right,” Marcy said. “You can’t. I wish I couldn’t. I wish I could forget it.”
“But they didn’t touch you,” Jesse said.
“No, because they knew that they’d have to deal with Crow, and they were afraid of him. Even Harry Smith.”
“Macklin,” Jesse said.
“I know. He was Harry Smith to me.”
“If he’d needed to,” Jesse said, “Crow would have swatted you like a fly.”
“No,” Marcy said. “I can’t bear to think about it if I don’t think of him protecting me.”
Jesse started to speak and stopped. He put his hand out and patted her hand.
“Okay,” Jesse said. “You came out of it okay, and that was because of Crow.”
“Me later, maybe,” Jesse said.
They ate their salads quietly. The waitress cleared their plates and brought the entrées. Marcy sat looking across the table at Jesse. She was tapping her fingertips together near her chin.
“He came to see me,” Marcy said. “Two days ago.”
“He threaten you?”
“No,” Marcy said. “He was pleasant. Asked if I was okay. Said he had some business in town, and thought he’d check on me.”
“You believe that?”
“I believe what I need to believe,” Marcy said. “If I stop thinking of him the way I do, I can’t stand to live with the memory. I can’t be Marcy. Can you understand that?”
“Yes,” Jesse said. “I can.”
Molly sat with Jesse in his office.
“Nobody on Stiles Island will say anything about Mr. Cromartie,” she said.
“Neither will Marcy Campbell,” Jesse said.
“Even though you questioned her all night?” Molly said.
Jesse raised his eyebrows at her.
“I’m a law officer,” Molly said. “I have my sources.”
“She feels he saved her life,” Jesse said.
“All the hostages do,” Molly said.
“All women,” Jesse said.
“I told you he’s a hunk,” Molly said.
“Maybe they’re right,” Jesse said.
“That he did save their lives?”
“Maybe they are,” Molly said. “Still, a lot of people got killed, including two of us.”
“And the only thing I saw him do was rescue the women,” Jesse said.
“The other people,” Molly said, “people in the bank, homeowners, other businesspeople, they won’t even say he was there. They’re scared, afraid to re-involve with him.”
“Don’t blame them,” Jesse said.
“So, we got no case.”
“No,” Jesse said. “I talked to Healy. No warrants out on him. I talked to my guy Travis, in Tucson. Nothing. Crow doesn’t seem to have been detected in a criminal act since he left here.”
“With enough money to retire,” Molly said.
“So how come all of a sudden he’s out of retirement?” Jesse said.
“Well, he isn’t, actually,” Molly said. “He hasn’t done anything but come here and say hello.”
“So far,” Jesse said.
Suitcase Simpson knocked on the doorframe and came into the office carrying a large foam cup of coffee.
“How’s the crime situation at Dunkin’ Donuts?” Jesse said.
“Under continuous surveillance,” Suit said. “I got a little news.”
“Wilson Cromartie just rented a place on Strawberry Cove,” he said. “You know who the broker was?”
“Marcy Campbell,” Jesse said.
Suit looked disappointed.
“You knew that?” he said.
“No, but what other broker would he know in town?”
Molly smiled at Jesse.
“She mention that to you last night, Jesse?” she said.
“Odd,” Molly said.
“You saw Marcy last night?” Suit said.
“She won’t testify against Crow,” Jesse said.
“Despite intensive interrogation,” Molly said.
“Intensive,” Jesse said.
Suit looked at both of them and decided to let it be.
“So I figure he’s planning on staying awhile.”
“Give us more time to bust him,” Jesse said.
“If we can,” Molly said.
“Sooner or later,” Jesse said.
Jesse poured himself his first drink of the evening. The scotch whiskey looked silky as it slid over the ice. He added soda, waited for the bubbles to subside, then stirred the ice around with a fingertip. Jenn always used to say he should use a spoon, but he liked to stir it the way he did. He took a drink, felt it ease into him. He looked at his picture of Ozzie Smith on the wall over the bar. He wondered if Ozzie drank. Probably not, probably hard to do that backflip if you were a boozer. He raised his glass at the picture.
“I made the show, I’d be doing backflips, too,” he said aloud.
His voice sounded odd, as it always did, in the empty room. If he hadn’t hurt his shoulder he might have made the show. He sipped again. If he didn’t drink he might be with Jenn. If Jenn didn’t try to fuck her way to fulfillment. If he were smarter he’d have let Jenn go and taken up with Sunny Randall. If Sunny wasn’t preoccupied with her ex-husband. If…
Jesse walked to the French doors that looked out over his little balcony to the harbor. He had no illusions about Crow. Whatever his reasons for letting the women go ten years ago, whatever his reasons for protecting Marcy, if he really had, Jesse knew that had he needed to, Crow would have killed them all.
Jesse’s drink was gone. He walked back to the bar and filled his glass with ice. He poured the caramel-colored whiskey over the ice and added the soda. He stirred it, and walked back to the French doors.
But Molly was sort of right. Jesse didn’t know if he and Crow were alike. But there was something about Crow that clicked in Jesse. Crow was so entirely Crow. He belonged so totally to who and what he was. Crow probably enjoyed a drink. Probably had no problem stopping after one or two. Probably didn’t get mad. Probably didn’t hate. Probably didn’t fear. Jesse took another drink and stared at the darkening harbor…. Probably didn’t love, either.
“He’s not missing much,” Jesse said to no one.
Even saying it, Jesse knew it wasn’t quite true. If he didn’t love Jenn, would he be happier? He wouldn’t be as unhappy. But was that the same? What would replace the sense of momentous adventure that he felt when he thought of her, which was nearly always?
Jesse made another drink. The evening had settled and the harbor was dark. There was little to look at through the French doors. After he made his drink, Jesse stayed at the bar.
In a sense, loving Jenn wasn’t even about Jenn. It was about who he was by being in love with her. So why not just let her do whatever she wanted to and love her anyway. What did he care how many men she banged? Let her go about her business and I go about mine and what difference does it make? He heard a low animal sound in the room. It was, he realized, him, and it had come without volition. He looked at his picture of Ozzie and shrugged. Okay, so it makes a difference. Was it more about him than about her? Did he hang in there because he would miss the high drama? He knew he loved her. He knew she loved him. He knew they couldn’t find a way to make it work.
“Yet,” he said, and drank some more.
Crow was at a corner table in Daisy’s, having an egg-white omelet with some fruit salsa, when Jesse came in and sat down at the table with him.
“Care to join me?” Crow said.
“Thanks,” Jesse said.
Daisy brought him coffee.
“You want some breakfast?” she said.
Jesse shook his head. Daisy left the pot and swaggered away. Crow watched her.
“Daisy Dyke,” he said.
“That’s what she calls herself,” Jesse said.
“Wonder why?” Crow said.
“She was going to call the restaurant Daisy Dyke’s,” Jesse said, “but the selectmen wouldn’t let her.”
“Nice she’s out of the closet,” Crow said.
Jesse nodded and drank some coffee.
“Can’t seem to put together a case against you,” Jesse said. ...
All rights belong to the author: Robert B Parker.
This is a short fragment for review the book. The full version can be purchased in the store.