When a woman's partially decomposed body washes ashore in Paradise, Massachusetts, police chief Jesse Stone is forced into a case far more difficult than it at first appears. Identifying the woman is just the first step in what proves to be a difficult and emotionally charged investigation. Florence Horvath was an attractive, recently divorced heiress from Florida; she also had a penchant for steamy sex and was an enthusiastic participant in a video depicting the same. Somehow the combination of her past and present got her killed, but no one is talking - not the crew of the Lady Jane, the Fort Lauderdale yacht moored in Paradise harbour; nor her very blonde, very tanned twin sisters, Corliss and Claudia; and not her curiously affectless parents, living out a sterile retirement in a Miami high rise. But someone - Jesse - has to speak for the dead, even if it puts him in harm's way.
Filled with tawdry sexual shenanigans, bestseller Parker's fifth Jesse Stone novel (after 2003's Stone Cold) finds the former L.A. cop, now the police chief of Paradise, Mass., tentatively reunited with his ex-wife, Jenn, and approaching a year since his last drink. The murder of a woman aboard a sailboat leads Stone into a world of wealth and depravity centered on a couple of yacht owners from Florida and their crowd. Drugs, pornography, rape and underage sex provide a degrading framework for the murder investigation. Stone gets a valuable assist from Kelly Cruz, a Fort Lauderdale cop, as he traces the backgrounds of victims and suspects. The laconic Stone with his uncertain relationship with Jenn, his struggle with alcohol and his visits to a therapist presents a striking contrast to Parker's primary hero, Spenser. But much of the dialogue is interchangeable: witty, flirtatious, droll and sexually charged. The outcome manages to be both surprising and depressing. Stone is a work in progress whose following is likely to increase as he continues to grow. Author tour.