After a busted marriage kicks his drinking problem into overdrive and the LAPD unceremoniously dumps him, the thirty-five-year-old Jesse Stone's future looks bleak. So he's shocked when a small Massachusetts town called Paradise recruits him as police chief. He can't help wondering if this job is a genuine chance to start over, the kind of offer he can't refuse. Once on board, Jesse doesn't have to look for trouble in Paradise: it comes to him. For what is on the surface a quiet New England community quickly proves to be a crucible of political and moral corruption—replete with triple homicide, tight Boston mob ties, flamboyantly errant spouses, maddened militiamen and a psychopath-about-town who has fixed his violent sights on the new lawman. Against all this, Jesse stands utterly alone, with no one to trust; even he and the woman he's seeing are like ships that pass in the night. He finds he must test his mettle and powers of command to emerge a local hero—or the deadest of dupes.