Friday, December 17, 2004

Mr. Paradise Not Quite That


Elmore Leonard books range from lukewarm to sizzling hot reads for me. Unfortunately, Mr. Paradise runs on the lukewarm side. The dialog’s hot, but the story’s cold. It’s a short novel, just under 300 pages, with big typeface and lots of space between paragraphs. Yet, there are several throwaway conversations and events that could have been left out. So maybe Mr. Paradise could have been a very good short story.
The plot revolves around the murder of Mr. Paradiso and his call girl, Chloe. Detective Frank Delsa is tracking down the muderers while falling in love with Kelly, who was also at the murder scene. I don’t normally gripe about a story having to be “believable,” but, Leonard’s a pro that’s lived near Detroit most his life. With Mr. Paradise he makes it difficult not to be critical when several places and people in the story just seem so unlikely. As a native to the areas Elmore refers to in Mr. Paradise I feel its my duty to warn anybody wanting to visit Detroit to find someone like Kelly, a gorgeous Victoria Secret’s model, living in a chic downtown Detroit loft, with her call girl roommate, Chloe, doesn’t come close to existing. It sounds interesting, but it’s just not plausible. Even worse, Leonard pulls the tired cliché of having her and the Detective fall in love.
Luckily, Leonard saves the novel with his sly and witty dialog play between characters. Despite all the faults, the story moves along at a quick, enjoyable pace. Elmore Leonard will remain on my reading list but let’s just say I’m expecting more.

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