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Jesse Stone - one of the creations of the late Robert B. Parker - is back in a new novel, "Damned If You Do," written by Michael Brandman, who wrote and produced a half-dozen highly rated TV movies about Stone that starred Tom Selleck.

This is the third Stone novel by Brandman, who is part of a trio of writers hired by the Parker estate to continue the various series begun by the man who virtually restarted the modern detective novel with his first Spenser, "The Godwulf Manuscript," back in 1973. (Ace Atkins is writing the Spenser novels, with "Lullaby" and Wonderland" already out, and a new one due next spring. Robert Knott is continuing the Hitch & Cole series of westerns that began with Parker's "Appaloosa.")

The good news is that Brandman is getting better with every book, and even though his books tend to feel like screenplays that have been fleshed out, that sort of works for the way he evokes Parker's minimalist approach. "Damned If You Do" is the story of Stone's search for the killer of a young woman who was found in a seedy hotel in Paradise, the coastal Massachusetts town he serves as police chief; one can almost hear Selleck's world-weary delivery of Stone's dialog ... in fact, they should get Selleck to do the audio book. It is a good mystery, though I sort of wish more of it took place in Paradise rather than nearby Boston. (One of the things that Parker liked to do was poke fun at small town and suburban lifestyles.)

There's also a solid subplot about a Paradise nursing home that mistreats elderly residents. And if I have one suggestion for Brandman, it is that he should let his subplots breathe more. (He could have done even more with this than he did.)

For those of us who loved Parker's work and were fans of the Jesse Stone novels, Brandman delivers. (There are a lot of us...."Damned If You Do" already is making the best seller lists.) He's still not a novelist in the class of Ace Atkins, but he's getting better with practice.

You can check out "Damned If You Do"


Meanwhile ... Lee Child, a consistent best-seller with his series of Jack Reacher novels, has a new one out - "Never Go Back." And it's a crackerjack effort.

If you don't know Reacher, he's a former Army military policeman who is wandering the US with only the clothes on his back and a toothbrush in his pocket, a kind of knight errant solving problems, fighting bad guys and rescuing damsels in distress. "Never Go Back" propels to the foreground a back story that started four novels ago in "61 Hours," when Reacher heard a woman's voice over the phone and decided he wanted to go to Virginia to ask her out to dinner. Since then, he's been crossing the country to get there ... and "Never Go Back," he's made it.

The problem is that the woman has been arrested, and Reacher also is detained and accused by military police of various crimes. Needless to say, this doesn't go down well with Reacher, who escapes with his usual panache, rescues the woman, and launches into a nationwide odyssey during which he is sometimes the hunter and sometimes the hunted.

It is great stuff, and a total page turner. I enjoyed every minute.

You can buy "Never Go Back" here.

One of the nice things about iTunes is that they sometimes will post free episodes of TV series, especially new ones that the networks are hoping to generate buzz for. I've watched two this week. "Ironside," a remake of the old TV series starring Raymond Burr, this time starring Blair Underwood, is just awful. And "Brooklyn Nine Nine," a cop comedy starring Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher, was pretty good, reminding me in good ways of the old "Barney Miller" series.

A wine recommendation: the North Valley 2011 Pinot Noir from Soter Vineyards in the Willamette Valley. Excellent red ... just delicious. Enjoy.

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

KC's View: