“Sharp as an ice pick….You will love this excellent book.”
—New York Times Book Review
Elmore Leonard is the undisputed master, the “King Daddy of crime writers” (Seattle Times), in the august company of the all-time greats of mystery/noir/crime fiction genre: John D. MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, et al. The creator of such unforgettable classics as Stick, Out of Sight, and Get Shorty—not to mention the character of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, lately of TV’s hit series Justified—Leonard is in fine form with Mr. Paradise. A riveting Detroit-based thriller enlivened by Leonard’s trademark razor-sharp dialogue, Mr. Paradise follows a smart Victoria’s Secret model’s attempt to score big after surviving a double murder in a millionaire’s mansion…with a lonely cop acting as spoiler.
Fifteen years after his last Detroit novel, Killshot, Leonard (whose most recent effort was Tishomingo Blues) returns to Motor City for another exemplary crime thriller. Chloe Robinette, an escort, is on a $5,000 monthly retainer from wealthy, retired octogenarian lawyer Anthony Paradiso; her duties include dancing topless in a cheerleader's outfit for him as he watches videos of old University of Michigan football games. On a night she persuades her roommate, Kelly Barr, a Victoria's Secret model, to join her in the dancing, Chloe and Paradiso, aka Mr. Paradise, are shot dead in Paradiso's mansion by two middle-aged white thugs. The hit has been set up by Paradiso's right-hand man, Montez Taylor, who's angry at Paradiso for cutting him out of his will; Montez then asks the shocked Kelly to impersonate Chloe in order to scam valuables from Paradiso's safe deposit box, to which Chloe had a key. Enter Frank Delsa, a Detroit homicide cop, who smells a rat and falls for Kelly while sorting matters out. She falls for him, too, but will the hit men and/or Montez take her out, since she can identify them as conspirators? Like the best crime thrillers which means like most of Leonard's work this novel is character-driven, and in its wonderfully rich, authentically human cast the story finds its surprises. The prose, as expected from Leonard, is perfect in 304 pages, there's not a word that doesn't belong exactly where he's placed it. Brilliantly constructed, wise and tough, this book, like so many recent Leonards, offers a master class in how to write a novel.