I just finished the last Robert B. Parker book, "Split Image", a Jesse Stone novel. It was the last in many ways, because Robert B. Parker died on January 18, 2010. Split Image was his last book, released in February 2010. Talk about good mystery books ... we can hope that he might have placed another novel or two in the pipeline before he passed away!

Measured in years, Mr. Parker lived for 77 years, from September 17, 1932 to January, 2010. Measured in books, his bio at Penguin Publishers puts it at "over 60". Let's say that again, "over 60 books" published! Since he was one of my favorite mystery authors, I'm thankful that he was such an enormously prolific author. His literary agent for thirty seven years, Helen Brann, said, "Bob wrote five pages a day every day but Sunday (and some holidays or vacations with his wife Joan) every day of his adult life. He was very clear about it. No more and no less than five pages..."

Split Image is a cross over novel that features Jesse Stone, but includes a strong secondary story bringing Sunny Randall into his life again. Parker was a series writer. He took a character, gave it personality, and set it loose in a book. If the character held his interest a strong, long series was in order. Spenser was the big guy, literally and literarily. Spenser was good for 37 novels from The Godwulf Manuscript to The Professional. Sunny Randall was good for six novels about a female private eye. Jesse Stone rated eight books. All of Parker's heroes were strong and yet flawed, spoke in short sentences, but were great observers. I count thirteen standalones, including several westerns. His characters translated well into the big and small screens. Robert Urich was Spenser; and I can't read Jesse Stone's dialogue with hearing Tom Sellecks voice.

In Split Image, the story's good, but in a Parker novel, the thing that drives you through the pages isn't typically nail biting suspense. The driving force in Parker's books is dialogue. Boy, did he put together conversations that told stories. His books are fast reads. Since I've devoured all the detectives, I'm gonna have to checkout the cowboys before I can truly say good bye.