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by Douglas Corleone
St Martin's Minotaur, April 2010
352 pages
ISBN: 0312611587

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Attorney Kevin Corvelli is new to Hawaii. He moved there because he lost his last case in New York, and lost it badly, publicly. He's determined that his practice in Hawaii will handle nothing but misdemeanors - no felonies, no murders, nothing that will draw media attention. His landlord, another lawyer, has other plans. He sends Joseph Gianforte, Jr to Kevin. Joey Bang is accused of following his fiancée to Hawaii and killing her because he catches her sleeping (to use a common euphemism) with another man.

Joey isn't totally honest with Kevin; what a surprise! He neglects to mention some important facts. He lies about important events. He reminds Kevin of Brandon Glenn, the reason Kevin left New York. So Kevin tries to do a much better job for Joey than he did for Brandon.

Most of PARADISE deals with the investigation that Kevin and his cohorts do in trying to prove Joey isn't guilty of murdering Shannon Douglas. First they try to come up with some reasonable doubts, some other suspects. Then they try to find out who really killed Shannon. It's not a pretty story, but murder usually isn't pretty.

The rest of PARADISE covers Kevin's new romance with a local woman. She's attractive, makes Kevin slow down, and has some connections that come in handy as he works the Gianforte case. She also has some problems: her brother deals and ingests ice (a form of meth), she has real problems with loss (some nasty family history), and she's just a little bit jealous. Kevin thinks he has a handle on all of this.

PARADISE won the 2009 Minotaur Books/MWA First Crime Novel Contest. It's a very fine first novel. Corleone has a bright future ahead of him. Problems? A few. PARADISE takes a while to get going; readers looking to jump right in and hit the ground running will not be happy. There's a scene where Kevin kayaks (for the first time?) out to an island to meet a witness; he smokes dope with this witness. That seemed a tad unbelievable, although Kevin has a habit of doing things that push the envelope for ethical/legal behavior by a lawyer. Kevin, as a character, is a little schizo - he does some things that seem very in character for a stereotypical New York lawyer, then pages later he seems to be mellowing out nicely. This happens a lot. Perhaps as the series progresses, he'll decide which Kevin he's going to be. Plotting? Corleone has that down, mostly, though the last few twists won't surprise hard-core fans of the genre. These are relatively minor issues in a well-written first novel. PARADISE really is a winner.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, April 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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