A few years ago, Robert B. Parker started expanding beyond his Spenser franchise and, aside from a couple of bad westerns, created new characters and new series. Stone Cold is the fourth novel in the Jesse Stone series (Night Passage, Trouble In Paradise, Death in Paradise) set in Paradise, Maine. This TV movie adaptation of Parker’s work is probably the best done so far. Tom Selleck, now far removed from his Magnum P.I. series, is just the right guy to play the still somewhat alcoholic ex-L.A. cop who found himself in the small coastal town of Paradise, Massachusetts.
When a series of murders sharing the same pattern but with unconnected victims disturb the quiet town of Paradise, Jesse Stone, with the help of his willing but understaffed force, tries to find the killers before the State police and the media take over. He also has to contend with his feelings for his ex-wife and TV journalist, a lover or two (including Rita Fiore of the Spenser series), and the usual pressure from the town councilmen. Add to this a secondary plotline about a young high school student gang-raped by some guys in her class, and you not only have the basic plot of the original novel but a very good mystery DVD to boot.
What also makes this movie aside from the fact it actually follows Parker’s excellent novel and respects the original character is that it is filmed much more spectacularly than your usual made for TV fare. Although this aired on CBS, it has the kind pf picture quality you are used to seeing on HBO. Stone Cold is a slow-paced, moody mystery that takes its time to establish the characters and the story line. There are rumors Selleck and CBS are thinking of going weekly but they will be far better off making full-length high quality mysteries like this one.
By the way, do not look for a Robert B. Parker cameo as was the case in some Spenser movies like Walking Shadow, Thin Air, and Small Vices.
Other Jesse Stone DVD reviews: