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 passing.
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.