Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise

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Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise
Jesse Stone Death in Paradise DVD.jpg
DVD cover
Genre Mystery film
Distributed by Sony Pictures Television
Directed by Robert Harmon
Produced by Steven J. Brandman
Screenplay by
Based on Death in Paradise 
by Robert B. Parker
Music by Jeff Beal
Cinematography David Gribble
Editing by Chris Peppe
Production company Brandman Productions
Country United States
Language English
Original channel CBS
Release date
  • April 30, 2006 (2006-04-30) (USA)
Running time 87 minutes
Preceded by Night Passage (2006)
Followed by Sea Change (2007)

Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise is a 2006 American television mystery film directed by Robert Harmon and starring Tom Selleck, Viola Davis, and Kohl Sudduth.[1] Based on the 2001 novel Death in Paradise by Robert B. Parker, the film is about a small town police chief and struggling alcoholic who investigates the murder of a teenage girl whose body is found floating in a lake. The case brings the former LAPD homicide detective into the affluent world of a bestselling writer who exploits troubled teens, and the violent world of a Boston mobster. Filmed on location in Nova Scotia,[2] the story is set in the fictitious town of Paradise, Massachusetts. Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise is the third in a series of eight television films based on Parker's Jesse Stone novels. The film first aired on the CBS television network April 30, 2006.[1]


In the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts, the decomposed body of a teenage girl is found floating in a lake. Chief of police Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck) and his men investigate the crime scene and discover that the body had been tied to a pair of cinder blocks and apparently the anchoring rope snapped, releasing the body to the surface. Luther "Suitcase" Simpson (Kohl Sudduth) walks the perimeter of the lake and finds a high school ring bearing the initials "HR". In the coming days, Jesse is haunted by disturbing dreams about the girl's murder.

Since moving to Paradise, Jesse's private life primarily involves drinking alone at his isolated house on the water with his dog Reggie looking on, occasionally talking on the phone with his ex-wife in California. Jesse was forced to resign from the LAPD for a drinking problem that began following his divorce. After several years, Jesse is still in contact with his ex-wife Jenn, who calls him regularly. Concerned about his drinking, Jenn convinces Jesse to see a psychiatrist in Boston that her psychiatrist recommended, Dr. Dix(William Devane), a former detective and recovering alcoholic himself. Following his first session with Dix, Jesse visits the grave of his former girlfriend, Abby Taylor, for whose death he still feels deeply responsible.

Jesse is visited by state homicide commander Captain Healy (Stephen McHattie) who delivers the autopsy report. The girl drowned, and alcohol and muscle relaxer were found in her blood. She was probably in the water for three weeks. She was about fourteen years old and pregnant. Soon after, Jesse goes to the high school and meets with head mistress Dr. Lilly Summers (Orla Brady) who identifies the owner of the ring, William Hooker Royce (Matt Barr), an all-American athlete at the school. Later, when asked about the ring, Hooker tells Jesse that he briefly dated a girl named Billie Bishop and had given her his ring when he broke up with her, feeling sorry for this girl.

Jesse returns to the school and learns from Lilly that Billie was a former A-student before coming to Paradise two years earlier when something changed her. He visits her parents and learns that she was thrown out of her home following a dramatic change in her behavior and academic performance. In the coming days Jesse and Dr. Summers become involved romantically.

While working to solve Billie's murder, Jesse must also deal with a domestic violence case involving Jerry Snyder (John Diehl), a loser who enjoys viciously beating his wife (Debra Christofferson). Jesse and officer Molly Crane (Viola Davis) try to convince Mrs. Snyder to leave her husband and she eventually does. Jesse pays Jerry one last visit, taking him for a drive and telling him that if he hits his wife again, that he will kill him.

Jesse's investigation leads him to Sister Mary John (Kerri Smith), a Catholic nun who runs the shelter where Billie sought refuge. Sister Mary provides Jesse with a phone number that Billie gave her in case of an emergency. Jesse soon dismisses Hooker as a suspect and turns his investigational focus on local writer Norman Shaw (Gary Basaraba), a well-connected citizen with ties to the Boston mob, as the prime suspect. It was his phone number that Billie provided to the Sister Mary. Shaw purportedly has a predilection for young girls.

Jesse and Luther pay a visit to Norman Shaw who is hosting a fundraising party with influential politicians and prominent citizens. Shaw threatens Jesse when told that he needs to lower the music and move some illegally parked cars. Afterwards, Jesse learns from Captain Healey that Shaw is writing a book on Boston mobster Leo Finn (Steven Flynn) who has a very dangerous gunsel working for him. Jesse visits Development Associates and meets Finn and his strongman Lovey Norris (Brendan Kelly). Asked about his relationship with Shaw, Finn reveals nothing.

Soon after, Jesse and Luther respond to an armed robbery in progress at a local supermarket. Inside, Jesse encounters Jerry Snyder holding his wife hostage after shooting Mr. Kim (Michael Ha), the store owner. When Jerry fires his weapon, Jesse shoots him dead. During the exchange, however, Luther is shot by Jerry. At the hospital, Luther is in critical condition and in a coma. Molly stays at Luther's side and reads to him.

Jesse returns to Shaw's house asking where he was the night of Billie's murder. Shaw offers an alibi involving a meeting with Leo Finn. Later Finn tells Jesse he refused to meet with Shaw, and reveals that Shaw molests kids and uses his fundraisers as cover. With a motive now established, Jesse returns to Shaw's house where their search uncovers cinder blocks and rope identical to the ones used in the murder. After arresting Shaw, DNA from his discarded cigar confirms he was the father of Billie's unborn child.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, something doesn't make sense—a yachtsman like Shaw would never have used a slip knot to tie Billie's body to the cinder blocks. Jesse arranges another meeting with Leo Finn, who shows up with Lovey. Jesse reveals that Shaw was working on an expose of Finn, and that he now knows Finn had Billie killed and made to look like Shaw was the murderer in order to stop the publication of the expose. When Lovey pulls his weapon, Jesse steps behind Finn who takes Lovey's initial shot in the back, and Jesse returns fire, killing Lovey.

Later, after visiting Billie's grave, Jesse returns to the hospital, sits at Luther's side, and begins reading to him the story of a baseball player named Harry "Suitcase" Simpson.



Filming locations[edit]


This second film in the series differs from the novel in several ways. In the film, Jesse is haunted by dreams of Billie trapped underwater throughout the film; in the novel, Jesse does not experience these nightmares. In the film, Jesse’s only contact with Jenn is by phone; in the novel, she sees him in Paradise. In the film, Jesse follows Jenn's recommendation and starts to see Dr. Dix but does not quit drinking; in the novel, he quits drinking. In the film, Abby Taylor's murder is referenced and Jesse struggles with guilt over her death, even visiting her grave; in the novel, she is not mentioned. In the film, Shaw is framed for Billie's murder by a man named Leo Finn; in the novel, Alan Garner is involved.


In his review in DVD Talk, Paul Mavis found the film "a nicely turned out, low-key mystery that tones down the agonizing of Jesse Stone: Night Passage, while concentrating more on the mechanics and procedures of Stone's job."[4] Mavis continued:

Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise is much more oriented towards telling a straightforward mystery, watching the methods and procedures that Jesse Stone employs to work his way towards a solution. There's still plenty of time for Selleck, who's excellent here again as Stone, to ponder the gray shadows that make up the human condition—as well as his own personal life. But Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise moves much quicker than Jesse Stone: Night Passage, eliminating many of the long paused scenes of Selleck brooding over his life. Plot is key to Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise, and the quick, professional screenplay moves assuredly from one compact set-up to the next. Much like Jesse Stone: Night Passage, Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise has the clean, unadulterated feel of an old Hollywood programmer. And like Jesse Stone: Night Passage, Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise doesn't necessarily surprise you with its mystery, but that's okay. We've all seen too many detective films where action is the main focus; it's nice to see a production where emotion and thinking are the primary concern. Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise impresses with its detailed production, atmospheric feel, and the dead-on, spare thesping by the excellent supporting cast.[4]

Mavis concluded that the film was "clean, polished, and professionally executed".[4]

In his review in Monsters and Critics, Jeff Swindoll wrote that Selleck "continues to shine in the role of Jesse Stone and Death in Paradise is another fine entry in the series."[5]

On the review aggregator web site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 68% positive audience rating based on 362 user ratings. [6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 11, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Locations for Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Full cast and crew for Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Mavis, Paul (May 20, 2007). "Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise". DVD Talk. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  5. ^ Swindoll, Jeff (June 17, 2007). "Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise". Monsters and Critics. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 

External links[edit]