Mr Paradise is a bit of an old pervert. To get his kicks, he
watches recordings of games where Michigan win with live, scantily-clad
cheerleaders strutting their stuff in front of the TV. When the game is over,
the party starts.
On one particular night, Mr Paradise’s paid companion,
Chloe, persuades her model friend, Kelly, to help her out. Kelly’s only there
for the dancing, but is forced to go upstairs
with Mr Paradise’s helping hand, Montez Taylor.
Montez seems surprisingly unhappy to be accompanying an
incredibly beautiful woman to his bedroom, so it’s almost a relief for him and
for Kelly when two gunmen burst in and shoot Mr Paradise and his lady friend.
Before the police turn up, Montez makes an odd request of
Kelly. She may be a famous underwear model but he’s hoping that for a while, at
least until he can get some financial arrangements sorted, she’ll play the part
of her dead friend.
Enter Frank Delsa. He’s the detective assigned to the case.
He has the smooth good looks of, say, a Steve Carella, and a temperament that
many find attractive. Not only that, his instincts about people are spot on and
he’s able to read a case like it’s the printed word. When he sees Kelly, now
pretending to be Chloe, it’s love at first sight. And it’s mutual.
The ins and outs of the case are seamlessly woven. We move
through different points of view and different periods of time as the puzzle is
constructed. As the plot fits together, the quality of the story becomes clear.
It moves through the gears like a high class automatic car;
it picks up pace smoothly and quickly in a way that means you’re deeply
involved and turning your way through those pages while barely noticing time
Delsa is a real winner. As far as I can tell, this is the
only novel he appears in and I hope I’m wrong on that as I’d love to read more.
The book is packed with tremendous characters who feel very real in all
respects, especially when in dialogue (a real strength of the book).
My only issue with the read is the ending. Things have been
so smooth and well-handled, that when the conclusion is being laid out and there
are a few gear crunches and bumps in the road to contend with, it’s something
of a shock. It’s not that it’s not a fitting way to close, it just didn’t click
at the point when my expectation had reached its peak.
Very sleek crime fiction and I recommend it to the house.