Jesse Stone is the lead character in a series of detective novels written by Robert B. Parker. They were among his last works and the first series in which the novelist used the third-person narrative. The series consists of nine books, starting with Night Passage (1997) and ending with Split Image (2010), which Parker completed before his death in January 2010 but did not live to see published.
I became acquainted with the character, Jesse Stone, played by Tom Selleck, watching the movies made for TV. With a great cast, setting, and excellent cinematography, they are well done! I had never read one of Parker’s books, however. When Amazon offered Night Passage, for $1.99, I downloaded it. Not a long read, I could hardly put it down. I will admit that it was hard to cast aside the image of Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone. Since I’d seen many of the films, I already knew a great deal about Stone as I started the book.
While becoming acquainted with Jesse Stone in Night Passage, we learn that he has played in minor league baseball, retiring after injuring a shoulder, that he has been working as a detective for the Las Angeles Police Department and is forced to resign because of his drinking. With a bleak future, Jesse is surprised when he is hired as chief of police for the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts (based on the actual town of Swampscott, Massachusetts.) After showing up to the interview intoxicated, Jesse is unaware that he has only been hired because the corrupted president of the town council feels he can be easily controlled. It doesn’t take long for Jesse to realize that something is amiss in this seemingly innocent town. Seizing this opportunity to turn his life around, Jesse battles with his drinking and begins the mystery of exactly what is going on and why the last Chief of Police is killed out west where he is now living.
After reading this first book and getting the jest of the situation, I think you can read them in any order. Usually, I prefer following a series, one after another, but if your library has any of Parker’s Jesse Stone books, give them a try. I may skip #2 because the reviews were mixed, but I enjoyed the style of Parker’s writing and look forward to trying some more. If the premise doesn’t strike your fancy, keep your eye out for the TV movies which they rerun. I know you will like the film version of Jesse Stone. HAPPY READING!