Death in Paradise by Robert B Parker is the third book in the Jesse Stone Series. As of this writing, there are seventeen other books in this series. I read and wrote a book review on Melancholy Baby from the Sunny Randall series, which is another set of novels by the author. After looking through the pages of Death in Paradise, I realized that writing most of the story in a dialog is the style Robert B. Parker writes. The chapters are also very short in both of these books. Another similarity I found in both of these books was that one or more of the characters go to psychotherapy.

This novel did not capture my attention as much as Melancholy Baby. I felt it was kind of boring in the beginning. I, however, kept on reading just to finish it, and to see if it would get any better. It didn’t.

Death in Paradise Synopsis

Jesse Stone is the Chief of Police in Paradise, Massachusetts. After finishing a softball game with his colleagues, Jesse heard screaming. He ran over to the noise to see what happened. The screams came from two men who had just found a dead body in the water. After looking at the body, Jesse guessed that it was a young girl, but it was hard to tell. She probably was in the water for a few weeks. A quick assessment of the girl determined that someone murdered her before dumping the body into the water.

In Death in Paradise, Jesse needs to figure out the identity of the girl and to find the person who killed her. The first clue they found is a high school ring on a chain. They assume that it belonged to her boyfriend since the ring is too small to fit the girl. Another mystery Jesse Stone needs to investigate is why the family of the dead girl never reported her missing. Moreover, why did they deny that she was their daughter?

After some investigation, Jesse is almost positive that the floater is a fifteen-year-old girl named Billie Bishop. He just needs to prove it. The parents did not report the girl missing. Jesse only had the ring as evidence and traced it back to a high school, where he then deduced that the missing girl was probably Billie Bishop. Jesse went on a mission to find out where she went after she ran away from home. I will lead to the person who shot her in the head.

Jesse Stone’s Character

In Death in Paradise emphasizes the character of Jesse. He is really good at softball and he has a drinking problem.

A significant amount of the story is dedicated to Jesse’s drinking habits. Jesse’s excessive drinking is one reason why Jenn, his ex-wife, divorced him. His drinking problem damaged his career also. Jesse got fired from his last job in L.A. from drinking on the job. Yet he refuses to give it up.

“His drink was gone. One more. He got up and went to the kitchen and made another one and brought it back to the deck. The scotch made him feel integrated, complete. Not a wild drunk, Jess thought. Mostly quiet. Mostly the booze enriched him. Jenn wasn’t nasty about his drinking. She had too much psychotherapy not to understand the struggle.” (page 97)

Jenn asks Jesse to talk to her psychotherapist regarding his addiction. The psychotherapist is a recovered alcoholic and understands the difficulty in quitting. Jesse complies because he would love to get back with Jenn.

Softball plays a large part in Death in Paradise also, but not as much as the drinking. Jesse plays on a softball team, along with some of his colleagues, that is a part of the Paradise Men’s Softball League.

“Everyone laughed. They were happy with the story. They all knew that the better you were, the more you talked about your failures. Jesse was clearly the best player in the league, maybe good enough to have played in the majors if he hadn’t got hurt.” (page 47)

Jesse was a shortstop on a minor-league baseball team, and then he tore up his shoulder. The injury ended his career. This devastated him when he was younger. Then he chose to become a policeman as his career.

My Analysis of Death in Paradise

The story emphasizes more on Jesse’s character than on solving the homicide case. In a crime novel, I expect to be taken away in trying to solve the crime. I did not receive that in Death in Paradise. The detective work was intermittently placed in the book. The majority of the book focused on Jesse’s personal life, which had nothing to do with the case. I lost interest because there was nothing to anticipate.  It definitely was not a page-turner.

I still would be interested in reading more of Robert B. Parker’s books to see what else Jesse Stone is up to. He is not my favorite character, but the stories are good. The author wrote seventeen other Jesse Stone books, maybe the other ones will be better. I would give another of his books a try.

If you have read other Jesse Stone novels, this is a good book. It reveals a lot about Jesse’s character. Sometimes getting to know the main character is just as important to the reader as solving the crime.

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Death in Paradise
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Death in Paradise

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