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Literature / Jesse Stone

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A series of novels by Robert B. Parker following police chief Jesse Stone, starting with Night Passage in 1997.

A former Los Angeles cop, Jesse winds up in the sleepy town of Paradise, Massachusetts. But he has a way of attracting trouble...

A series of nine TV movies have been made starring Tom Selleck. The movies stay relatively true to the characters despite some alterations to the plot and the omission of some characters.

    Novels in this series 
  • Night Passage (1997).
  • Trouble in Paradise (1998).
  • Death in Paradise (2000).
  • Stone Cold (2003).
  • Sea Change (2006).
  • High Profile (2007).
  • Stranger in Paradise (2008).
  • Night and Day (2009).
  • Split Image (2010). Last novel by Parker; the author died months prior to its publication.
  • Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues (2011) by Michael Brandman.
  • Robert B. Parker's Fool Me Twice by Michael Brandman.
  • Robert B. Parker's Damned If You Do by Michael Brandman.
  • Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot (2014) by Reed Farrel Coleman.
  • Robert B. Parker's The Devil Wins by Reed Farrel Coleman
  • Robert B. Parker's Debt To Pay by Reed Farrel Coleman
  • The Bitterest Pill by Reed Farrel Coleman
  • Fallout, by Mike Lupica

In addition, Stone has had Crossover appearances in one Spenser novel (Back Story-2003) and two Sunny Randall novels (Blue Screen-2006, Spare Change-2007).

Contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Jesse skirts close to this and knows it. Although he gets it more or less under control, his alcoholism was the reason he had to leave the LAPD. It also led to his current job as police chief; because he showed up to his interview drunk, the town's selectmen thought he would serve as a figurehead they could easily manipulate. Of course, Jesse was self-aware enough to think it suspicious; why hire a drunk...?
  • Amicably Divorced: Jesse and Jenn, for the most part. It really depends on the day, but while their feelings for each other can vary they both recognize that they're better off not being married to each other for now.
  • Artistic License – Law Enforcement: It's often stated that the Paradise Police Department has about 10 officers, with the population of the town being 20,000. On average there are 2-2.5 officers for every 1000 civilians, which should put the size of the department closer to 40-50.
  • Asshole Victim: Normally, an officer performing a kick to the balls on an unarmed civilian who's not attacking would be a major Kick the Dog moment. Unless said civilian is Jo Jo Genest, who just got done bragging about how Jesse can't do anything to stop him from raping his ex-wife. Then it's this trope.
  • Author Appeal: Jesse Stone's weapon in the movies is changed from a .38 revolver to a 1911-style pistol. This is because Tom Selleck is an avid fan of that type of pistol.
  • The Beard:
    • In Stranger in Paradise Miriam Fiedler turns out to be one for her gay husband, who spends all their money on his boyfriend, though Jesse eventually "convinces" the husband to get a quiet divorce.
    • At one point Jesse investigates a man who seduces beautiful women with rich husbands, then blackmails them by threatening to go to their husbands with evidence of their infidelity. One of the victims reveals that she serves as the beard to her gay husband; they have an open relationship but must appear to be a conventional heterosexual couple for the sake of his political career.
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live Without Them: Jesse and his ex-wife Jenn, who cheated on him to further her career. They have an on-again off-again relationship.
  • The Casanova:
    • Crow exudes an effortless sexuality that captures the hearts of many women, including Molly, who has a no strings attached one night stand with him that doesn't seem to do any damage to her relationships in the long run.
    • Suitcase Simpson when it comes to middle-aged, married women.
    • Jesse himself; in addition to his on again off again relationship with his ex-wife Jenn, Jesse has Friends with Benefits relationships with several women
  • Career-Ending Injury: Jesse was a promising baseball prospect working his way up the minor leagues when a shoulder injury forced him out of baseball and into law enforcement.
  • Casting Couch: To further her career Jenn slept with her producer, which played a large part in her and Jesse's divorce.
  • Cowboy Cop: Jesse, who used to work in South Central LA, has a considerably different idea of how to dish out justice than the selectmen in Paradise. Often enough that Jesse regularly points out that the contract he signed allows for "recourse with the selectmen if they are dissatisfied with my performance".note 
  • Crossover: Jesse and his crew have shown up in Spenser's series, and Sunny Randall has appeared as well.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jesse, Molly Crane, Simpson and others.
  • Domestic Abuse: Jo Jo Genest regularly terrorizes and even rapes his ex-wife, and mocks the fact that the restraining order can't do anything about it. (And Jerkass Has a Point... technically. It doesn't do anything on its own, but if someone called the police stating he was in violation of the Order, however, it would help give extra legal backing to any other charges. The problem would be actually bothering saying anything.)
  • Destructive Romance: Jesse and Jenn's marriage, due to her infidelity and his alcoholism.
  • Enemy Mine: In Night Passage, Jo Jo Genest agrees to help Jesse once he realizes that the Horsemen will want him dead too.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Crow doesn't have many, but he does stick to them like glue.
  • Expy: Wilson Cromartie aka Crow is similar to the character Hawk of the Spenser series in that they're quiet, dangerous, and largely amoral badasses, and they both have bird nicknames as well.
  • Friends with Benefits: In the TV movie Stone Cold, Jesse and Abby have this kind of relationship until she's murdered by a serial killer. He has several other relationships of this type in the novels, including with his ex-wife Jenn.
  • From New York to Nowhere: Forced out of the LAPD due to his alcoholism, Jesse finds a job as the police chief of a sleepy New England town.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Discussed between Jenn and Molly and their respective adulteries. Jenn's was bad because it was a means to an end (to further her career), and contributed to her divorce from Jesse. Molly's one night stand with Crow was "good", as it was a one time thing that her husband will never know about so nobody got hurt.
  • Groin Attack: In Night Passage Jesse, to Jo Jo Genest. Who totally deserved it.
  • Kick the Dog: In Night Passage, Jo Jo Genest kills Captain Cat to get back at Jesse.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: In High Profile Walton Weeks always wanted to have a child but was unable to because he had trouble ejaculating, and when he finally conceived with his mistress they were both murdered.
  • Likes Older Women: Suitcase Simpson frequently ends up in relationships with older women, and they're usually married older women too.
  • Love Triangle: Jesse, Jenn and Sunny, and Jesse even lampshades it when he realizes they're actually sitting in a triangle.
  • MacGuffin: Referenced in Fallout - "Jesse, or Sunny—it was sometimes difficult to remember which one of them had said what when they were still together—had referenced MacGuffins more than once. From the old Hitchcock movies. A thing that drove the story. The plot. Sometimes a thing, sometimes a person, sometimes missing, sometimes hiding in plain sight."
  • The Missus and the Ex: Sunny and Jenn actually get along very well, much to Jesse's relief since he's having Sunny guard Jenn.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Jo Jo Genest thinks they'll protect him, but Jesse and others know better.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Paradise is loosely based on the town of Marblehead, Massachusetts, and even has a Yacht Week like the real town.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Jo Jo Genest claims this when his ex-wife tries to get him charged for assaulting her repeatedly. Jesse's response is to Groin Attack Genest.
  • Off the Wagon: Jesse was fired from his job in L.A. for drinking on the job, and frequently struggles with alcohol. In fact, his divorce from Jenn was not due to Jesse leaving her because she cheated on him, but her leaving him for his drinking.
  • Older Than He Looks: In Night Passage, one of the selectmen says this about Jesse: "He's young, and looks younger than that."
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: It takes nearly half of Night Passage before we find out that Suitcase Simpson's real first name is Luther.
  • Playing Hamlet: Jesse in the books is about 35, while Tom Selleck was in his mid-sixties when he played him, but Parker himself says that Selleck nailed the role.
  • Race Lift: Molly Crane, who's Irish Catholic in the books, is played by an African American woman in the TV movies.
  • Really Gets Around:
    • Suitcase Simpson, who has a way with the middle-aged women of the town.
    • As well as Cissy Hathaway, who was sleeping with the above.
    • Not to mention Jesse, to the point that in one novel he is jokingly given vitamins by his fellow officers to help keep up his...stamina.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: Jesse and his ex-wife Jenn periodically give their relationship another try, never being able to make it work long-term but also never being able to fully move on from each other.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The Horsemen in Night Passage are a group of these, with plans to stockpile weapons
and ammunition and oppose the US Government.
  • Running Gag:
    • Jesse will get out of a tedious or distasteful task by reminding everyone that he's the chief of police.
    • Molly will say something disrepectful and Jesse will jokingly reprimand her; she will then repeat the disreptectful statement with "sir" or "chief" added to the end, and Jesse will approve.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Jesse, who was drunk during his job interview, was hired because the aldermen of Paradise thought he'd be too incompetent to figure out what they were up to. Unfortunately for them he turns out to have more iron in him than they thought and brings down their entire scheme.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: It's heavily implied that Crow and the women he kidnapped had a bit of this going, partly because he made sure that none of them were hurt. It's also possible that he developed Lima Syndrome, and even has a one-night stand with one of the women years later.
  • Suicide by Cop:
    • Lutz in the climax of High Profile, and Jesse even calls the trope by name when he realizes what's going on.
    • The Nighthawk from Night And Day. He had previously stated that he had no intention of being captured, and when he is cornered by three cops with guns drawn he still raises his own gun and is killed.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted, since Jesse sees one regularly, and he encourages Jenn to see one after they break up. This is also a regular aversion in most of Parker's works.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Crow may be a heartless bastard by most counts and doesn't bat an eye at gunning teenage gangbangers down in broad daylight, but he will not hurt women. The main plot of Stranger In Paradise kicks off when this leads him into conflict with his employer, who wants him to kill his ex-wife.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Jenn in High Profile has a variant of this: she was threatened and terrorized, but wasn't actually raped, but says she was to get Jesse to help her. Sunny tells her to get help as soon as she figures out what really happened.