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Tom Selleck, Edward Edwards, Matt Barr, Gary Basaraba, Orla Brady
Sony Pictures 2007
87 minutes

There has been a Death In Paradise: How does a straight A student end up failing all her courses and floating in a local lake brutally murdered? The functioning alcoholic sheriff of Paradise, Massachusetts Jesse Stone makes it his business to find out the how and why of it all.

The long suit in the Jesse Stone series of made for TV movies from Sony Pictures is how closely they stick to the feel, characters and story crafted by Robert B. Parker. Parker is one of the most successful and talented American story tellers alive with a string of best selling mystery novels stretching back to his first Spencer novel in 1973 (The Godwulf Manuscript) to his more recent Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall novels (6 books in each series).

Death In Paradise has all the elements of Paradise life we have come to love. A tight knit sheriff’s department, local politicos with more influence than brains, hard working people with both hard lives and good lives and a thin layer of respectability some think can be purchased with the dollar. Aside from the central story surrounding a high school girl found in a lake there is a second story line centered on a local man who is a mean drunk and beats his wife when he is drunk. Jesse’s method of dealing with any problem is to go head on at it as if by sheer force of will he can change the nature of others and their actions. It could be the drunk in him that makes him believe his approach will work or it could be the cop in him they are too close together to be able to distinguish between which is which.  

In both cases, whether he is dry drunk or under the influence, Jesse’s actions lead to unexpected consequences and unforeseen tragedy. Jesse Stone is unrelenting which makes him a good cop and someone you want on your side at the same time it takes its toll on those around him in ways they cannot understand. You don’t have to be a fan of the genre nor of Parker or Selleck to appreciate the complexities of this mystery / procedural you will enjoy it anyway. Fans of Parker and Selleck will embrace this small screen adaptation for all the skill and drama it brings to your living room. Definitely a must see DVD.