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on 9 June 2005
Elmore Leonard is the man behind two of the best films of the 1990's - Get Shorty and Jackie Brown - but this one falls pitifully short of those standards. He probably wrote it faster than I could read it !
So the author demands respect, he's up there with the greats but "Mr Paradise" is not the book he will be best remembered for. It's about two girls, Chloe and Kelly, who spend an evening with a wealthy man (Mr Paradise) at his mansion for the sole purpose of entertaining him in whatever way he chooses, and they know they will get highly paid for it. But something goes terribly wrong, and two people end up dead. Much of the ensuing story relates to why Mr P was killed, and who will benefit in his last will and testament.
This is a very 'talky' novel, not what I had expected from an author who has in the past been so skilled at describing the atmosphere of places and events, and the way that different and often interesting characters inter-act with each other. This story, by comparison, is lacking in that famous Elmore Leonard spirit, it's a by-the-numbers account of an investigation into a contract killing and one in which the cop falls for the beautiful key witness, his first romantic encounter since the death of his wife a year or two earlier. Ho-hum. Nothing radical here, it reads like a kind of soap opera or TV movie, and it would be sad if you buy this book and form an impression of the writer if this is to be your first encounter with him. Believe me, he's much, much better than this. Try Rum Punch to see what I mean.