Blue Screen, the Sunny Randall novel by Robert B. Parker, is a smoke screen of a mystery. It is not that awful but it may be time for Parker to spend a little bit more time writing and writing one book at a time at that. A Parker fan will certainly recognize a lot of the formulaic stuff from other books in Blue Screen and easily see that dialogue wise the relationship between Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall is not unlike Spenser and Susan Silverman’s.
In Blue Screen Sunny Randall is hired by Buddy Bollen, a movie producer who lives in Jesse Stone’s Paradise, to protect his main lay, Erin Flint, a B-movie actress. When Erin’s sister is murdered, Erin asks Randall to investigate and this brings her in contact with Jesse Stone. The investigation involves the usual Robert B. Parker scene of the detective discussing the case with a local mobster, a close friend, and an intimate friend, shuffling to and back from another big city, discussions on the nature of human nature, and all the other Robert B. Parker stuff.
Parker has always been a popcorn style mystery writer: a nice, familiar, relaxing read. Having read the Spenser mystery Hundred-Dollar Baby the same week, I could not but notice how some lines were repeated verbatim in Blue Screen, “A hard man is good to find” and a line or two on how the bald look does not suit white men. More irritating in Blue Screen is how the dialogue between Stone and Randall at the end of chapter 23 is very similar to their lines at the end of chapter 26: there is formulaic and then there is sweat shop assembly line formulaic. The second scene between Tony Gault and Randall makes little logical sense considering their first scene together. And so on and so on.
Not to play spoiler but the ending of the Sunny Randall novel Blue Screen will more than irritate fans of the series. The ending sucks.