Monday, March 3, 2014

Mr. Paradise Mr. Paradise by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Years ago, impressed by rave reviews, I read two novels by Elmore Leonard, "Get Shorty" and "52 Pick-Up". I did not like the books at all. In fact, I found "Get Shorty" so boring that I just flipped through the last fifty pages to find out how the plot ends. I don't remember anything from that book other than my constant checking "is it the end yet?" So it was with a lot of apprehension that I picked up another novel by Mr. Leonard.

Well, a pleasant surprise! "Mr. Paradise" is a well-written and interesting crime story that takes place in Detroit underworld. A very old rich guy is being entertained by a high-income call girl when an apparent home invasion happens and they are killed. The detective, Frank Delsa, is trying to solve the case that involves other threads intermingled in the plot. The characters are caricatures, but they are pretty vivid. I like the ambiguity of Kelly Barr's character; the reader does not seem to know which side she is really on.

The dialogues are snappy and written well. There is a lot of black humor in the novel; a careful reader will be entertained by the Pine Knob concert joke and some other funny bits. The denouement is quite good, with most characters exhibiting so-called "cool" behavior in a cinematic ending. I like how Mr. Leonard makes it clear that the bad guys behave and look cool just because they are so extremely stupid.

I recommend this short novel; it does not have much in common with literature, but it provides good entertainment and is fun to read. I will certainly reassess my opinion of Elmore Leonard's writing.

Three stars.

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