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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Guest Blog: Mike Faricy on Robert Parker's Jesse Stone

Minnesota native Mike Faricy, author of "Russian Roulette" and 7 other funny, quirky crime novels (all available for $2.99 for Kindle), joins us on the blog to discuss PI characters who have been an influence on his writing.  Up today is Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone.

Thanks to Must Read Mysteries for letting me share my thoughts on PI characters I’ve read and how they influenced my writing. To start, since I seem to have an authority problem, let’s not look at PI characters. I feel like starting with a Chief of Police, although he was an LAPD detective before he was forced out the door. I’m talking about Robert B. Parker’s conflicted protagonist, Jesse Stone.

Best known for his Spenser novels, Parker wrote the first Jesse Stone novel, Night Passage, in 1997. He wrote a total of nine novels in the Jesse Stone series before he passed away in 2010. The last one, Split Image, was published after his death. The Jesse Stone novels are the only ones Parker wrote using the third-person narrative. Michael Brandman has continued the series and penned Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues, released in September, 2011.

I like Jesse Stone for a variety of reasons, not the least is he’s one terribly troubled individual. In his early days Jesse was a minor league shortstop who lost his shot at the major leagues once his throwing arm was injured. You get the sense he’s been on relatively thin ice ever since. Parker himself said it best, “Jesse is a much damaged individual who is coming to terms with himself as he goes along.”

Jesse is plagued by recurring demons; drink, depression and his ex-wife. Which came first? Jesse’s divorce from his ‘film star’ wife seems to have lit the fuse to his ongoing battle with drink, scotch and soda being his preference. His drinking forces his departure from the LAPD and guarantees his hire by the Paradise, Massachusetts town council. Jesse, intoxicated at his job interview, gets pegged as an individual the town council will be able to control. They make him an offer he really can’t refuse, by the way, it’s also the only offer he has.

Almost every time he seems to have beaten his drink problem, his ex-wife washes up on shore, leading to a bout of depression and then a drink relapse drifting in her wake. But at least half of that seems to be Jesse’s fault, he’s never really honest with himself where the ex is concerned and then feels blindsided when things don’t work out, yet again. Jesse is complex, damaged, and lacking answers, all of which make for a fascinating read.

The Jesse Stone novels have been turned into made for TV movies on CBS. Tom Selleck is cast as Jesse Stone, you watch about sixty seconds and know there is no one else who could play Jesse Stone as well as Selleck. Actually, Selleck, in conjunction with Michael Brandman wrote the screen plays for the series. The reports I’m reading suggest the most recent movie, Benefit of Doubt, which aired just this past May 20, will be the last Jesse Stone CBS does. Selleck and Brandman suggest this is not the end of the series, just the last one with CBS involvement, I hope the series continues.

The television adaptations differ slightly. In Parker’s novels, Jesse Stone is in his mid thirties. Obviously Selleck plays a more mature character. In Night Passage, Jesse interviews for the chief of police job drunk, in the television adaptation he’s just very hung over. Selleck also, in the most recent production, carries a Colt Commander .45 ACP pistol rather than the Smith & Wesson Model 36 snub nosed revolver, but his portrayal of the dark side of Stone’s personality is uncanny. Jesse Stone is known for his dry, matter of fact one-liners and Tom Selleck delivers them perfectly. In Benefit of Doubt Jesse Stone says, “I think it looks like he hung himself.” 
“Yeah, I think he hung himself,” replies Captain Healy.
“That’s not the same thing,” Jesse says.

Robert B. Parker himself said, “Tom Selleck nails the character.” Indeed he does.


  1. I agree 100%! I hope it's not the last in the series either!

  2. Kath, You're so right, it's a great series. Like I said who else but Selleck could play Jesse Stone. Great stories.

  3. Loved Russian Roulette. Never read any of the Jesse Stone books before reading this blog, but am now finishing Night Passage. Thank you! Without Must Read Mysteries I would never have met up with either Dev or Jesse. Judith

  4. Mike.. I am so in love with the Jesse Stone series as well as Tom Selleck as being one of the greatest actors alive..and like you said, no one could play Jesse Stone but Selleck... Thanks for sharing your thoughts..awesome! Love love love your book Russian Roulette...and Thank you , Must Read Mysteries <3
    Laureen Sonia

  5. Thanks for the post Mike. Jesse Stone is one of those characters that I have been aware of, but I had never branched out from Parker's Spencer books. Now I will.

  6. I love both the movies and novels in this series. At first I couldn't picture Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone, but think he has done an outstanding job. I hope they make more.


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