The Barnes & Noble Review
It's often said that authors create protagonists that represent their own personality traits or characteristics in some form. If that's true, then Robert B. Parker's beloved Spenser probably mirrors the author's wit and unbridled machismo, while Jesse Stone is most certainly his sorrow.
Somber yet always inviting, Death in Paradise is the third in Parker's series featuring Stone, a former LAPD cop who was drummed out of California for drinking on the job and now serves as police chief of small-town Paradise, Massachusetts. This time Jesse not only continues his battle with alcoholism but must also solve the case of a murdered teenage girl found in a lake. The investigation leads Jesse deep into his own backyard, where the high-profile bestselling author Norman Shaw becomes a suspect -- as well as to Boston, where he must deal with mob figures Gino Fish and Vinnie Morris. Even off duty, Jesse has plenty of problems as he attempts to comb out his love life, from his consuming feelings for his ex-wife to his developing interest in the sexually charged principal of the dead girl's high school.
Parker emphasizes sentiment here as much as taut suspense and violence. He's always in excellent form, but he's never better than when dealing with small-town folk in all their complexity, as he delves into the secret lives hidden behind the Mr. and Mrs. Front Porch facade. This is the source of the poignancy and emotional resonance that will haul you into the story and refuse to let you go. We're drawn in, step by step, even when we know that something painful is looming around the next corner. With Death in Paradise, the bestselling author again proves that one of his greatest talents is his ability to fully realize the commonplace nature of remorse, loss, and passion. (Tom Piccirilli)
New York Post
With all the authority of a bone-crunching fist, Robert B. Parker is back with another breezy detective novel that mystery fans will find as satisfying as a juicy prime rib at Peter Luger.
Washington Post Book World
A page-turner...one of the master's best.
Melancholy shadows this third, beautifully wrought Jesse Stone mystery; rarely if ever has Parker's fiction conveyed with such solemn intensity the challenge of living a good life in a world of sin. Jesse, erstwhile drunk and now sheriff of small-town Paradise, Mass., tackles two criminal and two personal mysteries here: the murder of a teenage girl found shot dead in a local lake, and the chronic beating of a local wife by her husband; the conundrum of Jesse's attraction to alcohol, and the mess of his love life, shaped by his dependence upon his estranged wife but encompassing a highly sexed affair with a school principal. The search for the identity and the killer of the girl brings Jesse, as such investigations traditionally do, into the realm of high society the prime suspect is a bestselling writer but also to the mean streets of Boston, where the sheriff parries with Gino Fish and Vinnie Morris (outlaws borrowed from the Spenser series). Dogged police work, a hot-to-trot wife, child prostitutes, the solace of baseball, hard-guy banter these and more classic elements inform and bolster this immensely satisfying tale. As usual with Parker these days, though, the book's ultimate pleasure lies in the words, suffused with a tough compassion won only through years of living, presented in prose whose impeccability speaks of decades of careful writing. (Oct.) Forecast: This is Parker's third outstanding novel of the year, after Potshot and Gunman's Rhapsody. To promote it, he plans a vigorous author tour. Expect high interest and sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
While his Spenser series may always define him as a writer, Parker again proves his range in this third entry of his Jesse Stone series. Stone, chief of police in the small New England town of Paradise, is relaxing after a softball game one evening when a murdered girl's body is found nearby. Jesse must first discover the identity of the dead girl and then determine why she was killed. As if searching for a killer isn't enough, Jesse must also balance his police work against personal relationships, especially his complicated relationship with his ex-wife. Stone is a deceptively complex character, one whose problems are both interesting and completely believable. Like his protagonist, Parker doesn't waste words, using them sparingly while still managing to create scenes so vivid that the reader feels like an intimate observer. Another strong effort in what is already an impressive series, this one is a lock for high circulation in public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/01.] Craig Shufelt, Lane P.L., Fairfield, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
The regular evening game of the Paradise Men's Softball League is interrupted when the body of a young woman floats to the surface of the adjacent lake. Since no one can identify the shooting victim, and no one answering to her general description has been reported missing, Police Chief Jesse Stone (Trouble in Paradise, 1998, etc.) relies on routine inquiries and a telltale class ring to identify her as Elinor (Billie) Bishop, universally labeled the "town pump" by her fellow high-school students. Billie's reputation is so dire, in fact, that her own parents deny she's their daughter. The only link Jesse can find for Billie is to the shelter for runaways that Sister Mary John runs in Jamaica Plains. But that link leads in turn to Alan Garner, whose telephone Billie had given as a forwarding number when she left the shelter, and to Garner's boss Gino Fish, the well-connected gay Boston mobster Parker's major-league sleuth Spenser (Potshot, p. 209, etc.) has tangled with now and again. All Jesse has to do is follow the links-if he can tear himself away from the bottle, his ex-wife Jenn, his current love interest Lilly Summers, and the rest of Paradise's troubled citizens for long enough. Parker regulars will find the same extraordinary stillness-as if every scene were still another frozen tableau-that marks the more famous Spenser novels. What they won't find this time is enough action, detection, or real mystery to keep a self-respecting short story from starving to death.
From the Publisher
“Stone is a deceptively complex character, one whose problems are both interesting and completely believable…another strong effort in what is already an impressive series.” —Library Journal
“Beautifully wrought...[an] immensely satisfying tale. Rarely if ever has Parker’s fiction conveyed with solemn intensity the challenge of living a good life in a world of sin. The book’s ultimate pleasure lies in the words, suffused with a tough compassion won only through years of living, presented in prose whose impeccability speaks of decades of careful writing.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“What’s so cool about Death in Paradise is watching Jesse Stone’s relentless pursuit of the bad guy.” —St. Petersburg Times
“Hard-hitting...and brutally frank...Parker reinvents, revises and reincarnates the hardball, tough-guy, deadpan mysteries of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Death in Paradise is a tough, clear-eyed, sardonic look at life and the raw deals it can dish out” —The Providence Sunday Journal
“If you love Parker, you’ll love this book. Jesse Stone is clearly in the Parker style” —Calgary Herald
“James Ellroy-style dialogue...Like Jesse Stone’s beer, Parker’s novels can be quaffed with relish.” —The Ottowa Citizen
“[Parker’s] gift for creating engaging characters and involving the reader in their fate makes this...well worth your attention.” —The San Diego Union-Tribune
Read an Excerpt
Death in Paradise, Chapter One
One out. A left-handed hitter with an inside-out swing. The ball would slice away from him toward third. Jesse took a step to his right. The next pitch was inside and chest high and the batter yanked it down the first baseline, over the bag and into the right-field corner, had there been a corner, and lumbered into second base without a throw.
"I saw you move into the hole," the batter said to Jesse.
"Foiled again, Paulie."
They played three nights a week under the lights on the west side of town beside a lake, wearing team tee shirts and hats. One umpire. No stealing. No spikes allowed. Officially it was the Paradise Men's Softball League, but Jesse often thought of it as the Boys of Evening. The next batter was right-handed and Jesse knew he pulled everything. He stayed in the hole. On a two-one count the right-handed hitter rammed the ball a step to Jesse's left. One step. Left foot first, right foot turned, glove on the ground. Soft hands. Don't grab at it. Let it come to you. It was all muscle memory. Exact movements, rehearsed since childhood, and deeply visceral, somatically choreographed by the movement of the ball. With the ball hit in front of him, Paulie tried to go to third. In a continuous sequence of motion, Jesse swiped him with his glove as he went by, then threw the runner out at first.
"Never try to advance on a ball hit in front of you," Paulie said as they walked off the field.
"I've heard that," Jesse said.
His shoulder hurt, as it always did when he threw. And he knew, as he always knew, that the throw was not a big-league throw. Before he got hurt, the ball used to hum when he threw it, used to make a little snarly hiss as it went across the infield.
After the game they drank beer in the parking lot. Jesse was careful with the beer. Hanging around in the late twilight after a ball game drinking club soda just didn't work. But booze was too easy for Jesse. It went down too gently, made him feel too integrated. Jesse felt that it wasn't seemly for the police chief to get publicly hammered. So he had learned in the last few years to approach it very carefully.
The talk was of double plays, and games played long ago, and plays at the plate, and sex. Talk of sex and baseball was the best of all possible talk. Jesse sipped a little of the beer. Beer from an ice-filled cooler was the best way for beer to be. From the edge of the lake a voice said, "Jesse, get over here."
The voice was scared. Carrying a can of Lite beer, Jesse walked to the lakeside. Two men were squatting on their heels at the edge of the water. In front of them, floating facedown, was something that used to be a girl.
--From Death in Paradise by Robert B. Parker (c) October 2001, G.P. Putnam's Sons, a division of Penguin Putnam, used by permission.