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Mr. Paradise: A Novel Hardcover – January 13, 2004


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Product Details

  • Series: Leonard, Elmore
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (January 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060083956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060083953
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,537,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It's a dubious proposition from the outset, destined to lead to trouble: Chloe Robinette, a high-end former Detroit call girl, asks her lingerie model roommate, Kelly Barr, to help her entertain a wealthy octogenarian trial lawyer named Anthony Paradiso. By "entertain," she means donning a cheerleader's skimpy skirt, but going topless, and doing rah-rah routines beside a TV set while Paradiso--"Mr. Paradise"--watches videotaped football games. A bit kinky for Kelly's taste, but she finally goes along--only to be caught in the middle of a contract hit on Paradiso and Chloe. Rather than tell what little she knows of these crimes, Kelly buys into a scheme, concocted by Paradiso's right-hand man, Montez Taylor, that could lead to a huge payoff from the lawyer's estate. But only if the 27-year-old Kelly can convincingly assume Chloe's identity ...

Elmore Leonard, who's made his career writing about not-too-bright bad guys, fills Mr. Paradise with several memorable specimens of that breed. In addition to Montez, who'd resented his politically incorrect boss for cutting him out of his will, there's also a bottom-feeding defense attorney, Avern Cohn, who runs a murder-for-hire operation on the side, and his well-armed employees of the month, "tough monkeys" Carl Fontana and Arthur Krupa. Less credibly and entertainingly crafted is Frank Delsa, the widowed homicide detective whose hunt for Paradiso's killers is complicated by his attraction to the curvilinear Kelly. This romantic subplot is overly predictable and deflates early expectations that the cunning young model is playing some deeper game here, working an angle that neither Delsa nor Montez anticipates.

After penning a string of character-propelled novels set in Florida (including Glitz, Out of Sight, and the particularly winning La Brava), it's good to see Leonard exploiting the Detroit backdrop again, as he did so expertly in a few of his earlier successes (City Primeval and Killshot, for instance). Yet while Mr. Paradise is rich with comic dialogue and cop-shop color, it never goes beyond the expectations of a Leonard work. This author is too good not to take more chances. --J. Kingston Pierce

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Elmore Leonard wrote forty-five novels and nearly as many western and crime short stories across his highly successful career that spanned more than six decades. Some of his bestsellers include Road Dogs, Up in Honey's Room, The Hot Kid, Mr. Paradise, Tishomingo Blues, and the critically acclaimed collection of short stories Fire in the Hole. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Rum Punch, which became Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown. Justified, the hit series from FX, is based on Leonard's character Raylan Givens, who appears in Riding the Rap, Pronto, Raylan and the short story "Fire in the Hole". He was a recipient of the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA, and the Grand Master Award of the Mystery Writers of America. He was known to many as the 'Dickens of Detroit' and was a long-time resident of the Detroit area.

Customer Reviews

No interesting characters and weakly plotted.
W. panzer
It's a hard book to put down as Leonard makes you feel like there's another twist coming.
booksforabuck
Mr. Paradise is Anthony Paradiso Sr., a wealthy 84 year old criminal attorney.
Michael G.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on March 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Leonard is at his snappy, not-a-word-wasted best in this crime-gone-wrong page-turner. The crime is the murder of the title character, a rich, elderly Detroit crime boss. His resentful assistant, Montez Taylor, who has been written out of the old man's will, organized the hit. When he learns that Mr. Paradiso's "girlfriend," high-priced call girl Chloe, is making an unexpected visit, Montez tries to call it off, but fails.
Chloe brings along her friend Kelly, a model, who agrees to help out with a titillating cheerleading routine, and Kelly is upstairs when two gunmen burst in, killing both Chloe and Paradiso. Montez intimidates Kelly into pretending to be Chloe - there's a safety deposit box scam involved - but the nice policeman on the scene, quickly smitten Frank Desla, sees through that pretty quickly.
That's the set-up and from there it's just one thing after another in turn after subplot after switchback after double cross in gritty Detroit. Tightly plotted, but character driven, this is as zany, comic and smart as we've come to expect.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By nobizinfla on February 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Shady characters, brilliant dialogue, irony, masterful writing and a lively and humorous story line are what we expect from Elmore Leonard. "Mr. Paradise," a Runyonesque tale, has all this and more...it does not disappoint.
Eighty-four year old retired mob lawyer Tony Paradisio's favorite pastime is watching tapes of classic Michigan football victories with an escort or two cheering topless in ways not athletically encouraging.
After learning that he has been eliminated from Mr. Paradise's will, Montez (Mr. P's main man) arranges a hit that is supposed to look like a home invasion gone wrong.
The perps and Montez are members of the criminal mindless.
Throw in two corpses, a Victoria Secret model witness, an identity switch, assorted lowlifes, a safe deposit box full of loot, the hitmen's "agent" and Frank Delsa (a resourceful Detroit homicide detective)---and the chase is on.
The bad guys feel a sense of entitlement---leading to their demise. Getting caught being the real crime. Double-crosses, scams and deceptions propel the plot.
The tight prose is filled with accurate conversation in the colorful vernacular of the urban scene.
"Mr. Paradise" is a stylistic, unforgettable, witty, fast-paced read. Elmore Leonard is a consistently entertaining writer---do not under rate him just because you like him.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Craig L. Howe on February 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What do these reviewers expect? This is the story.
A high-end former Detroit call girl, asks her lingerie model roommate to help her entertain a wealthy octogenarian trial lawyer. By entertain, read she dons a cheerleader's skimpy skirt, but goes topless, while performing pom-pom routines beside a TV set while the lawyer watches videotaped University of Michigan football games.
The plot, to say the least, is imaginative. The characters are unique and unforgettable. The dialogue is snappy and realistic. The story moves and is entertaining.
What did these reviewers expect - a Detroit-based Hamlet? Elmore Leonard is a gifted novelist and Mr. Paradise will add to his reputation as a skilled character crafter.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Larry Scantlebury on May 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When you listen to Mr. Leonard's dialogue, you smell cigarette smoke, hear rap music from young 'gangstas' as they drive by, see slippery lawyers with too much old fashioned Brilliantine on their receding scalps, hear the double entendres and lies people tell eachother, and also, in sparing doses, hope, innocence and dreams.
Sometimes he is criticized for the plot, as in 'not much of a plot.' This seems to be a missed point; I don't read for the plot. I think that Elmore Leonard is a master of how people speak. The real people. Not television people. People like you and me. Or at least the people like you and I hear speaking.
Interestingly enough, Mr. Paradise does have an interesting plot with two young women who find themselves in a gig with an old lawyer (read mob figure), Tony Paradiso ("Mr. Paradise.") Tony is offed and one of the girls with him. The other faces a substantial fortune . . . if she can assume her dead friend's identity.
But then the Detective in charge, the handsome and widowed Frank Delsa, falls in love with her and she, perhaps . . . seems to . . . maybe . . . falls in love with him.
Great action, kind of sexy, and excellent dialogue. And it's Detroit, too, my city. 5 stars. Larry Scantlebury
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Elmore Leonard seems to run hot and cold in my eyes. But with "Mr. Paradise," he is definitely hot. Frank Delsa, acting lieutenant of Squad Seven, Homicide Section, Detroit Police Department has a couple of new murders to handle. An old rich guy with a penchant for young female playmates - and one of those very playmates who had the misfortune to be right there when Mr. Paradise was on the receiving end of a bullet. She gets one too for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Whodunnit? Well, Delsa first has to figure out who got it. The young hired girlfriend? Or her lookalike friend who came to the house that night and just happened to be upstairs at the time of Mr. Paradise's accelerated exit from this world.
It's a good police story. Characters drift in and out, each adding a little bit of necessary information to the story. None of them will ever win a Nobel Prize, but they kind of remind me of Daman Runyon's people; the dumb folks who think they are smart and wind up wearing orange jumpsuits or buying the Brooklyn Bridge.
The story moves nicely; the few loose ends don't rattle too much and there's a pleasant ending, at least for Frank Delsa.
It's a fun read, a good story.
Jerry
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