The story revolves around the death of a teen, which makes Death in Paradise much darker than the previous films. Night Passage seems antiseptic in comparison. The bad guys in Paradise are doing more than taking bribes and playing with mob types in Boston. The mob types are real and they have a very rough edge. They may even have their hooks in Stone's nice town. Other new characters include a young love interest for Stone and a very crotchety philanthropist. When a girl is found murdered in Paradise, it seems like everyone, including the girl's parents, have some blame to shoulder for what happened. It's not surprising that Stone takes the whole thing personally and goes after the girl's murderer with a vengeance.
What is surprising is how much more intrigue rolls up under the storyline in Death in Paradise. Now that Stone has worked out some of his baggage, he has the opportunity to crack a real case. There is still plenty of drama in his personal life, which he's attempting to work through. Stone's attachments at work are becoming more real but as they add to the feeling that his character is more present in the town and accepted, they change his tough-guy, loner mystique. The original Jesse Stone we saw roll into Paradise didn't have much interest or need for friends. His personal attachment seemed to start and stop with his dog, unless you count the torch he was carrying for his ex-wife. Having a more complex story makes Death in Paradise more interesting to watch, and the edgier content helps this feel less like a television movie that you sit through while you wait for the good stuff. Like reruns of Magnum? Heh... just kidding. I enjoyed Selleck more in Night Passage because he really got to show his angst. In Death in Paradise, we see more of a pure detective story, but there are enough "Stoneisms" thrown in to make this a treat for Parker fans in addition to first-time fans.