Death in Paradise

by Robert B. Parker

A Jesse Stone Novel

The Paradise Men's Softball League has wrapped up another game, and Jesse Stone is lingering in the parking lot with his teammates, drinking beer, swapping stories of double plays and beautiful women in the late-summer twilight. But then a frightened voice calls out to him from the edge of a nearby lake. There, two men squat at the water's edge. In front of them, facedown, was something that used to be a girl.

The local cops haven't seen anything like this, but Jesse's L.A. past has made him all too familiar with floaters. This girl hadn't committed suicide; she hadn't been drowned: she'd been shot and dumped, discarded like trash. Before long it becomes clear that she had a taste for the wild life; and her own parents can't be bothered to report her missing, or even admit that she once was a child of theirs. All Jesse has to go on is a young man's school ring on a gold chain, and a hunch or two.

Filled with magnetic characters and the muscular writing that are Parker's trademarks, Death in Paradise is a storytelling masterpiece.


"Melancholy shadows this third, beautifully wrought Jesse Stone mystery; rarely if ever has Parker's fiction conveyed with such solemn intensity the challenge of living a good life in a world of sin...As usual with Parker these days, though, the book's ultimate pleasure lies in the words, suffused with a tough compassion won only through the years of living, presented in prose whose impeccability speaks of decades of careful writing."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Pitch-perfect. . .with each book in this new series, Jesse is more his own man—a lonely, unstable guy who is serious about self-redemption but who lacks Spenser's natural defenses (of humor, heroics and a few good friends) for living in existential pain...Jesse is still unpredictable and a little scary. Let's trust Parker to keep him on the edge."
The New York Times Book Review

"Death in Paradise is faster than a speeding bullet and right on target."
Orlando Sentinel

"Every Parker novel is full of incidental pleasures, and Death in Paradise is no exception...what lingers in the memory are Stone's chapters of inner dialogue. These have the ring of truth; Jesse Stone may have more inner life than any of Parker's characters."
The Boston Globe

"Still as good as it gets at the understated come-on and nasty verbal comeback, and his plots jump along with convincing intricacy."
Washington Post Book World

"One of the greats...Parker's writing has become ever more spare, elegant and honed down, but remains enormously satisfying—a sort of prose haiku of extraordinary novel."
Romantic Times

"A tough, clear-eyed, sardonic look at life and the raw deals it can dish out."
The Providence Sunday Journal

"Another strong effort in what is already an impressive series"
Library Journal

"With all the authority of a bone-crunching fist, Robert B. Parker is back with another breezy detective novel that mystery fans will find as satisfying as a juicy prime rib at Peter Luger."
New York Post

Buy the book

paperback | Putnam | 2001 | ISBN: 9780399147791


Chapter One

One out. A left-handed hitter with an inside-out swing. The ball would slice away from him toward third. Jesse took a step to his right. The next pitch was inside and chest high and the batter yanked it down the first baseline, over the bag and into the right-field corner, had there been a corner, and lumbered into second base without a throw.

"I saw you move into the hole," the batter said to Jesse.

"Foiled again, Paulie."

They played three nights a week under the lights on the west side of town beside a lake, wearing team tee shirts and hats. One umpire. No stealing. No spikes allowed. Officially it was the Paradise Men's Softball League, but Jesse often thought of it as the Boys of Evening. The next batter was right-handed and Jesse knew he pulled everything. He stayed in the hole. On a two-one count the right-handed hitter rammed the ball a step to Jesse's left. One step. Left foot first, right foot turned, glove on the ground. Soft hands. Don't grab at it. Let it come to you. It was all muscle memory. Exact movements, rehearsed since childhood, and deeply visceral, somatically choreographed by the movement of the ball. With the ball hit in front of him, Paulie tried to go to third. In a continuous sequence of motion, Jesse swiped him with his glove as he went by, then threw the runner out at first.

"Never try to advance on a ball hit in front of you," Paulie said as they walked off the field.

"I've heard that," Jesse said.

His shoulder hurt, as it always did when he threw. And he knew, as he always knew, that the throw was not a big-league throw. Before he got hurt, the ball used to hum when he threw it, used to make a little snarly hiss as it went across the infield.

After the game they drank beer in the parking lot. Jesse was careful with the beer. Hanging around in the late twilight after a ball game drinking club soda just didn't work. But booze was too easy for Jesse. It went down too gently, made him feel too integrated. Jesse felt that it wasn't seemly for the police chief to get publicly hammered. So he had learned in the last few years to approach it very carefully.

The talk was of double plays, and games played long ago, and plays at the plate, and sex. Talk of sex and baseball was the best of all possible talk. Jesse sipped a little of the beer. Beer from an ice-filled cooler was the best way for beer to be. From the edge of the lake a voice said, "Jesse, get over here."

The voice was scared. Carrying a can of Lite beer, Jesse walked to the lakeside. Two men were squatting on their heels at the edge of the water. In front of them, floating facedown, was something that used to be a girl.