Sunny & Jesse Sitting in a Tree…

I’m a fan of continuity and shared universes. Always have been, always will be, I suppose.

I’m one of those people who enjoys the sly wink and nod when elements of one universe are snuck into another.

As a result, I’ve been watching with slightly more than idle curiosity how Robert B. Parker has been expanding the world of Spenser. First, he created Jesse Stone, another heroic male with issues, and set him in the same world, using the cops Belson and Quirk to link them together. Similarly, he created Sunny Randall for the actress Helen Hunt, and plopped her in the same world, using the same cops.

With each passing book in the Stone and Randall series, the world shave meshed closer and closer. Sunny now sees Spenser’s main squeeze, Dr. Susan Silverman, as her shrink while Stone has dallied with top lawyer Rita Fiore. Spenser and Stone have even crossed paths but never formally worked together.

Parker’s latest, Blue Screen, takes a big leap and pairs up Jesse and Sunny as lovers. While ostensibly an entry in the Sunny series, it really is the beginning of something entirely new. In the last Stone novel, Night Passage, we were led to believe that Jesse and his ex-wife might have a chance together. Here, time has passed, and Jesse has learned she is now sleeping with the new station manager where she works. To him, this is a final straw.

Sunny, meantime, also closes the door on her ex-husband, Richie, when she hears that he and his new wife are expecting a child.

She carries this baggage with her when a bodyguard job turns into murder investigation. Her charge, an Amazon of a woman with some self-esteem issues, may be a murder suspect when her assistant is found murdered. Sunny is engaged to shift from protector to investigator and finds sparks when she first speaks with Stone, the Chief of Police where the murder occurred.

For the rest of the engaging novel, we find them drawn together, coming together and dealing with the newfound emotional entanglements, just as each decide to free themselves from the past.

Parker’s books are wonderful reads, quick and engaging with a surprising amount of characterization and insight offered despite his spare writing style. While all three series continue chugging along, I do wish there was a bit more variety in the set-ups. Clearly, Parker likes dogs and makes certain people to bounce quips back and forth surround each protagonist. Is characters don’t make love as much as they “bop” one another, a verbal tic that needs some variety.

As I finished the new book this morning, I found myself real curious to see where he takes the new relationship and how much Jesse will factor into future Sunny novels and vice versa. Unless they are destined to meld into one new series entirely.