The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

March 26, 2010

Phyllis Sessengood: Detectives drawn together through separate mysteries

“Split Image” by Robert B. Parker (compact disc audiobook)

In “Split Image,” Sunny Randall, a Boston private investigator, and Jesse Stone, police chief of Paradise, Mass., continue a relationship that began with the novel “Blue Screen.”

Sunny arrives in Paradise to look for teenager, Cheryl DeMarko. The teen’s wealthy parents think that she has joined the “Renewal,” a cult-like religious group, and they have hired Sunny to find the young woman.

The parents believe that the group is holding their girl against her will. However, as Sunny learns more about the parents, she wonders if the girl might be better off with the cult.

Meanwhile, Jesse has his own problems. There is trouble in Paradise when police officer “Suitcase” Simpson finds the body of a mob enforcer in an abandoned vehicle.

Jesse quickly connects the body to two gangsters who live next door to each other. The mobsters are married to identical twins that live in identical houses — thus the “split image.” The twins are so much alike that sometimes they even fool their own husbands.

Although the cases are not related, the two detectives are soon drawn together and their relationship progresses to a more serious level. The psychological element is evident as each visits their respective shrinks.

From previous novels, we know that Jesse is a functioning alcoholic trying to get over his ex-wife, Jenn. Sunny still has issues with her ex-husband, Richie.

Robert B. Parker’s mysteries are always fun, distinguished by their interplay of characters and engaging dialogue. “Split Image” contains clever, witty and sharp almost smart-alecky dialogue, likable characters, with a plot containing the mystery suspense element.

James Naughton deftly narrates this novel, providing each character his own voice. Sadly, Robert B. Parker died shortly before this novel was published. I, along with millions of devoted fans, will miss this great mystery writer.

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