You Don’t Ask a Praying Mantis Why: MysteryPeople Q&A with Reed Farrel Coleman


Debt To Pay is Reed Farrel Coleman’s latest novel to feature Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone, created by Robert B. Parker. It’s a great example of a simple plot that allows for complex characters and emotions, wherein Jesse has to go to Dallas to protect his ex-wife during her wedding when a psychotic hit man returns from Jesse’s past for revenge. We caught up with Reed to talk about the book and continuing Parker’s legacy.

“I think Jesse is no longer drawn to the bright lights and big city. He’s come to understand the charms of small town New England. In Paradise he’s much more than just another cog in the wheel. The department is his department and he takes pride in that.”

MysteryPeople Scott: Debt To Pay is a series-changing book in many ways and you put Jesse in an interesting situation in having to protect his ex-wife at her wedding. What did you want to do with Jesse in it?

Reed Farrel Coleman: When I first took over the series, I was taken aback at readers’ antipathy for Jesse’s ex, Jenn. Fans actually begged me to kill her off. I think part of that was plot fatigue. They were tired of Jesse and Jenn continually playing out their dysfunction. So I had the notion that Jenn and Jesse finally had to come to some parting of the ways that made sense and rehabilitated Jenn. Also, without giving too much away, I needed Jesse to start on the road to making some changes that will serve the series in the future. This book is kind of the beginning of those changes.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Reed Farrel Coleman

In Robert B. Parker’s The Devil Wins, Reed Farrel Coleman’s second outing with Parker’s character Jesse Stone, the Paradise, Mass. police chief discovers a fresh body with ties to two girls gone missing decades before. The girls were friends of Stone’s deputy, Molly, and her past becomes tied to the case. It is a blend of aesthetics between creator and the author carrying the torch. The final passage reminded me of something the great Ross McDonald would write. We caught up with Reed to talk about the book and how the series has developed.

MysteryPeople Scott: Much of The Devil Wins revolves around Jesse’s deputy, Molly, and an incident from her past. What made you want to put the spotlight on her?

Reed Farrel Coleman: One of the aspects of my job in taking over the series is to work within the spaces that Bob Parker left me to operate in. One of the areas I believe Mr. Parker would have eventually delved into is the lives of Jesse Stone’s supporting cast. In his Jesse novels he has touched upon the lives of Molly, Suit, and Captain Healy, but never very deeply. I thought this was a great opportunity to see Molly, one of the very popular characters in the series, in a different light. As someone and something more than Jesse’s foil for wisecracks and banter.

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