In this bold and suspenseful true-crime story, former homicide prosecutor Timothy M. Burke makes his case against one Leonard Paradiso. Lenny “The Quahog” was convicted of assaulting one young woman and paroled after three years, but Burke believes that he was guilty of much more – that Paradiso was a serial killer who operated in the Boston area, and maybe farther afield, for nearly fifteen years, assaulting countless young women and responsible for the deaths of as many as seven. Burke takes the reader inside the minds of prosecutors, police investigators, and one very dangerous man who thought he had figured out how to rape and murder and get away with it.
The Paradiso Files generated headlines when first published in February 2008. Nine days later, Paradiso died at the age of sixty-five without commenting on any of Burke’s accusations, including that he murdered Joan Webster, a Harvard graduate student who disappeared from Logan Airport in 1981. Boston-area prosecutors announced in September 2008 that Burke’s revelations had led them to reopen the unsolved murder cases of three young women – Melodie Stankiewicz, Holly Davidson, and Kathy Williams. There were “too many similarities between the individual cases to ignore,” a prosecutor involved in the new investigation said. Burke’s account leaves little doubt that Paradiso’s deeds should go down in infamy, alongside those of the Boston Strangler.
Former homicide prosecutor Burke is a better lawyer than writer in this account of his quest to bring to justice Leonard Paradiso, a brutal thug he suspected was responsible for a series of Boston-area murders in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1982 Burke was investigating a triple homicide when a young woman, learning of his commitment to solving the case, called to ask for his help with the dead-end pursuit of the murderer of her sister, Marie Iannuzzi, in a neighboring county. Burke brushed aside potential jurisdictional challenges and, with the aid of State Trooper Andrew Palombo, went full steam ahead to lay the Iannuzzi murder at the door of Paradiso, uncovering evidence along the way that his suspect might also have killed missing Harvard graduate student Joan Webster, among others. The narrative details the investigation's setbacks and successes, culminating in Paradiso's 1984 trial for the Iannuzzi murder. While the author was clearly a tenacious investigator and advocate, the heavy-handed writing style and dramatized presentation of the facts (including the author's referring to himself in the third person) get in the way of the story.