A troubled detective in a picturesque location where all is not as it seems is a classic formula for intrigue: just look at the success of Inspector Morse and its spin-offs, for example, or a series like Shetland. Across the Atlantic, Tom Selleck’s Jesse Stone fits that bracket perfectly.

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Based on the detective novels by Robert B Parker, who is also known for writing the Spenser series about a private investigator, the movies introduce us to former LAPD detective Jesse Stone, who moves across the country to the sleepy town of Paradise, Massachusetts after being forced to step down from his job over his drinking problem (and after learning that his wife, an actress, has been having an affair with her producer).

He’s hired as Paradise’s top cop despite turning up to his interview drunk: indeed, this red flag actually wins over the council boss, who reckons that Stone won’t be sharp enough to pick up on his dodgy dealings. He’s wrong, of course, and Stone’s investigations will soon shed light on the apparently idyllic town’s darker side, including its deep-seated links to organised crime, institutional corruption and the Boston mob.

The first adaptation, Stone Cold, arrived on CBS in 2005, and Selleck has since reprised the role for a further eight films. The majority are based on Parker’s stories, with the later movies featuring original screenplays written by Selleck and Michael Brandman. The ninth film, Lost in Paradise, aired on the Hallmark Channel in 2015, though Selleck revealed earlier this year that he is “still working on” a script for a potential 10th movie.

“It isn’t the same cumulative narrative any more,” he told TV Insider. “As time has passed, I’m older and the Jesse Stone audience needs to account for that. He’s at a different part of his life. That’s interesting, but that’s not the script we started to do after we finished the ninth movie.”

While we wait, here’s what you need to know about the series so far…

Best order to watch Jesse Stone movies

If you want to immerse yourself in the world of Paradise, the series chronology is relatively simple: you just have to remember that the first movie to be released, Stone Cold, should be watched as the second Jesse Stone story in Parker’s series. Meanwhile, the second movie Night Passage, which was released a year later in 2006, should be watched first, as it introduces us to Stone’s LA backstory. Got it? From then on, the movies follow a straightforward chronological order.

Jesse Stone: Night Passage (2006)

Based on the first novel in Parker’s series, Night Passage sees Stone make the journey from Los Angeles (after being forced to resign from his role as a homicide detective for drinking while on duty) to Paradise, a small town on the Massachusetts coast. He is soon hired as Paradise’s chief of police, as the sleazy council leader, noting Stone’s drinking problem, reckons he will be a soft touch and turn a blind eye to his money laundering schemes.

He’s wrong, however. When the body of the previous police chief, who was forced out of the role after learning about the scheme, is found, Stone sets out to prove that his death was not an accident, and becomes embroiled in the murky world of the local gangsters who have some unsavoury links to the Boston mob. Viola Davis stars alongside Sellick as his police colleague Officer Molly Crane (she also appears in Stone Cold, Death in Paradise and Sea Change).

Watch Jesse Stone: Night Passage on Amazon Prime Video

Jesse Stone: Stone Cold (2005)

The sleepy town of Paradise is left reeling after a body is discovered on the shoreline, shot twice in the heart with a .22 calibre pistol. Not long after, two more victims are discovered, each killed by the same method. Stone, who is also investigating the rape of a teenage girl, starts to piece together a potential suspect profile by cross-referencing the gun register against the registration of a red truck that was spotted fleeing the crime scene.

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Soon, he has discovered not one but two potential killers acting as a pair - but without concrete evidence or a clear motive, he must wait to engineer a scenario that will prove their guilt. It’s a high stakes plan, and one that will eventually come at a high personal cost to Stone.

Watch Jesse Stone: Stone Cold on Amazon Prime Video

Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise (2006)

Stone’s next case sees him investigating the death of a teenage girl whose body is discovered floating in a lake. An autopsy reveals that she was pregnant, and that alcohol and muscle relaxer were in her bloodstream at the time of death. An initialed ring found on the body provides the first clue, eventually leading Stone and his colleague Luther Simpson (Kohl Sudduth) to discover that the victim is Billie Bishop, a high school student who was thrown out of her family home after her behaviour changed and her grades dropped.

Further investigation reveals that Billie was in the orbit of wealthy local novelist Norman Shaw, a man with rumoured connections to the criminal underworld, who has been working on a book about Boston gangster Leo Finn. The case will once again take Stone into dangerous territory.

Watch Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise on Amazon Prime Video

Jesse Stone: Sea Change (2007)

After admitting to his psychologist that he drinks more heavily when he doesn’t have a case to work on, Stone tells his new colleague Rose Gammon (Kathy Baker) to find the list of local unsolved cases. (Gammon has replaced Davis’s Officer Crane, who has resigned from the force since the events of Death in Paradise.) He then decides to reopen the investigation into the 1992 death of a bank teller who was taken hostage during a robbery.

When they visit the site where the body was found, they discover what appear to be the gunman’s clothes covered in marks consistent with a gunshot wound - a clue which proves this case is much more complex than the police had previously assumed.

Watch Jesse Stone: Sea Change on Amazon Prime Video

Jesse Stone: Thin Ice (2009)

As Thin Ice opens, Stone comes to the aid of his colleague, State Police Captain Healy (Stephen McHattie), who is attacked while keeping tabs on his nephew who he believes is in a relationship with his saxophone teacher. Stone starts to investigate the shooting, a move which doesn’t go down too well with the local council, who are wondering why he spends most of his time getting caught up in shoot-outs rather than sorting out lucrative parking tickets and speeding fines.

While he ploughs on with the case in spite of their wishes, Stone is contacted by a woman who wants him to look into the disappearance of her baby seven years ago. Although a body with a name tag was found at the time, she was never convinced it was her child - and later received an anonymous note claiming "your child is loved". Though he is sympathetic to her plight, Stone decides not pursue it, thinking that opening another cold case will only rile up the council even more. Gammon, however, is determined to investigate.

Watch Jesse Stone: Thin Ice on Amazon Prime Video

Jesse Stone: No Remorse (2010)

Suspended from his position as Paradise’s chief of police, Stone has been banned from contacting his colleagues, and is drinking heavily, much to the concern of Gammon and Healy. After a spate of murders in a parking lot, Stone is hired as a private consultant to Boston police, who are investigating the killings.

The first victim, he soon learns, had ties to Gino Fish, a figure in the Boston mob who has cropped up in previous investigations. When he’s not on the case up in Boston, Stone also looks into a series of attacks at a local convenience store.

Watch Jesse Stone: No Remorse on Amazon Prime Video

Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost (2011)

This time around, Stone has been pushed out of his job, replaced by the town council president’s son-in-law who is more concerned with Paradise’s public image than with fighting crime. Naturally, Stone is convinced that he will be reinstated one day, and is less than impressed when Butler, the new chief, tries to get him to give up his "concealed weapon" gun permit.

Even without an official police role, Stone still manages to find himself caught up in a pair of murder investigations. One involves the death of friend, which the new police chief has ruled as a suicide rather than looking into the case further, while another sees him once again team up with old pal Healy as a consultant for the Massachusetts State Police on a murder and robbery, where Healy has doubts over the main suspect’s guilt.

Watch Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost on Amazon Prime Video

Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt (2012)

Butler and one of his officers are killed in a suspicious police car explosion, and Stone is temporarily reinstated as the police chief by the town president, Carter Hansen. He soon notes that Hansen’s predecessor Hathaway, who has cropped up in a handful of previous stories, seemed to know about the death before Hansen was officially notified.

A note in Butler’s calendar seems to imply that he was caught up in police corruption, and Stone’s investigation will once again draw him into the web of local gangsters and their organised crime rings. He’ll have to carry it out alone, though, as his old associates Gammon and Simpson have left the force after struggling to work with Stone’s replacement.

Watch Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt on Amazon Prime Video

Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise (2015)

By now, Stone is back in the job of police chief, yet he again agrees to help out the Massachusetts State Police as a consultant, feeling bored by the dearth of significant cases in Paradise lately. He’s given access to case files on several murders in the Boston area, including one involving a woman named Mavis Davies, the fourth victim of a serial killer known as the Boston Ripper. When Stone visits the murderer in jail, he proudly admits to the first three killings - but insists that he did not commit the fourth.

Stone believes that he’s telling the truth, but has trouble convincing both Davies’s widower and Detective Leary, the officer who caught the Ripper, that the case might be much more complicated than they first thought. Advice from his psychologist Dr Dix (who just so happens to be an ex-cop) helps put him on the right track, though, and while he’s looking into the cold case, Stone also befriends a troubled 13-year-old who is being mistreated by her mother.

Watch Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise on Amazon Prime Video

How to watch Jesse Stone movies

The Jesse Stone films have aired on CBS and on the Hallmark Channel over in the US, but fans on this side of the Atlantic can find all nine movies available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

Visit our Film hub for the latest news and features, or find something to watch tonight with our TV Guide.

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