Mr. Paradise

Mr. Paradise

3.6 13
by Elmore Leonard

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Roommates Kelly and Chloe are enjoying their lives and their downtown Detroit loft just fine. Kelly is a Victoria's Secret catalog model. Chloe is an escort, until she decides to ditch her varied clientele in favor of a steady gig as girlfriend to eighty-four-year-old retired lawyer Tony Paradiso, a.k.a. Mr. Paradise.

Evenings at Mr. Paradise's house,


Roommates Kelly and Chloe are enjoying their lives and their downtown Detroit loft just fine. Kelly is a Victoria's Secret catalog model. Chloe is an escort, until she decides to ditch her varied clientele in favor of a steady gig as girlfriend to eighty-four-year-old retired lawyer Tony Paradiso, a.k.a. Mr. Paradise.

Evenings at Mr. Paradise's house, there's always an old Michigan football game on TV. And when Chloe's around, there's a cheerleader, too, complete with pleated skirt and blue-and-gold pompoms. One night Chloe convinces Kelly to join in the fun, along with Montez Taylor, Tony's smooth-talking right-hand man.

But things go awry and before the end of the evening there will be two corpses, two angry hit men, one switch of identity, a safe-deposit box full of loot up for grabs, and, fast on the scene, detective Frank Delsa, who now has a double homicide — and a beautiful, willful witness — to add to his already heavy caseload.

With a cool cast, snappy dialogue, and all the twists and turns fans crave, Mr. Paradise is Elmore Leonard at home in Detroit and sharper than ever.

About the Author

Elmore Leonard has written more than three dozen books during his highly successful writing career, including the bestsellers Tishomingo Blues, Be Cool, Get Shorty, and Rum Punch, and his most recent critically acclaimed collection of short stories, When the Women Come Out to Dance. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty and Out of Sight. He is the recipient of the Grand Master Award of the Mystery Writers of America. He lives with his wife,Christine, in Bloomfield Village, Michigan.

Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
It's been years since Elmore Leonard last took readers on a tour of the seamy side of Detroit (in Killshot), but his flair for gritty realism and dark humor hasn't changed a bit. Detective Frank Delsa, acting lieutenant of Squad Seven, Homicide Section, Detroit Police Department, has big trouble. His squad of eight is down to only three -- they're short on manpower and long on bodies. And there's one case that's practically taken over Delsa's life. Somehow, Tony Paradiso (a.k.a. Mr. Paradise) and his high-priced call girl were shot to death in the elderly ex-lawyer's magnificent mansion. It doesn't take Delsa long to figure out that the victim's personal assistant, Montez, arranged a hit on his employer. What's puzzling the cop is why Kelly, the woman who was upstairs with Montez at the time of the murder, tried to claim the dead woman's identity. To gain Delsa's sympathy, delectable and devious Kelly's only telling him part of the story -- the part about Montez threatening to have her killed if she didn't lie for him. She's not so forthcoming about the reason behind the lie, the fact that there is something valuable in a safe-deposit box that Montez needs the dead woman's signature in order to claim. If Kelly's going to help Montez, she wants a slice of the pie…. This one's pure Elmore Leonard, with the line between the bad guys and the good guys blurring as alliances shift against a backdrop of greed, violence, sex, and murder. Sue Stone
Ann Beattie
Elmore Leonard's 40th book, Mr. Paradise, is filled with ironic quotation marks, though he doesn't put them on the page. Tone is everything. How, exactly, can you be sure what the tone is? Well, you can't. Leonard addresses those who think they hear the same music he does, but who are open to questioning the familiar, to listening carefully and seeing when something has a different emphasis. … Mr. Paradise is about deception. People deceive through false identity (appropriating, dissembling), just as they, themselves, have been deceived -- whether by the implied promise of collapsed dot-coms or by positive, false assumptions about family.
— The New York Times
Michael Dirda
If a writer lives long enough or produces a steady output of good books, there comes a point when he or she passes beyond mere criticism. Readers grow simply grateful. We'd rather have any new Patrick O'Brian or Iris Murdoch or Dick Francis or Elmore Leonard than none at all. Sometimes this allows us to excuse all sorts of weakness. But in the case of Mr. Paradise we don't have to settle for mere gratitude. We can rejoice. It is unputdownable, packed with excruciating suspense and I couldn't stop reading it. Oh yes, it's also polyphonic and a masterpiece of progression d'effet.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Leonard (Tishomingo Blues, etc.) has long been the master of sparse, precise language. Consequently, his prose and dialogue have evolved over the years to the point of having a rhythm and style unique unto themselves. Fortunately, Forster falls neatly into sync with the author. His clear, matter-of-fact recitation is perfectly suited to drawing the listener into a world where violence, deception and death are simply a practical side of doing business and delivered with as much passion as a Detroit police report. The story follows the investigation sparked by the death of an 84-year-old millionaire-the Mr. Paradise of the title. Leonard brings together an eclectic mixture of pragmatic cops, working-class hit men, crooked lawyers, con men and gangbangers, all brought to life through Forster's smooth, understated delivery. If there is any flaw in the performance, it is that by keeping his reading so low-key and laconic, there are a few sections of dialogue where the listener may be confused as to which character is speaking. But it is this same delivery that enhances the humor in the book, often with laugh-out-loud results. So, even though it would have been nice if Forster gave the characters' voices a bit more inflection, this is a small criticism of an overall fine production. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Forecasts, Nov. 24, 2003). (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This novel marks Leonard's return to the Detroit cop genre that he popularized two decades ago. Det. Frank Delsa investigates the contract murder of wealthy octogenarian Anthony Paradiso (Mr. Paradise), who is shot while watching a taped college football game as a hooker dressed as a cheerleader entertains. As in other Leonard books, Mr. Paradise is populated with stupid criminals and endearingly quirky characters including Paradiso's slick assistant, Montez Taylor and has a number of satisfying plot twists. However, its main twist is Frank's disappointingly predictable romance with a Victoria's Secret model who may be involved in the crime. By the standards of the author's more recent work, this is a lackluster effort and is not strengthened by actor Robert Forster's comparatively languid narration. Recommended only for libraries with exceptionally avid Leonard fans. R. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Leonard (Tishomingo Blues, 2001, etc.) returns to his Detroit roots for another unlikely romance amid the thorns of crime. Chloe Robinette used to be a call girl, but now she takes calls only from Anthony Paradiso, the 84-year-old lawyer who's paying her $5,000 a week to do pretty much as he'd like. She's done such a good job making him happy that she lives in hope of being mentioned in his will, or coming into something a little special that Mr. Paradiso's left in the care of Montez Taylor, his longtime retainer. One night Mr. Paradiso, who enjoys live entertainment along with his University of Michigan football videotapes, asks Chloe to bring another cheerleader with her, and Chloe obliges with her roommate, lingerie model Kelly Barr. Wanting to make a nice gesture to Montez, Mr. Paradiso offers him one of the girls for his own use and tosses a coin to determine which one. Things would be simple, though amusing in Leonard's most laid-back manner, if the nod went to Chloe. But Kelly, who doesn't much like this stranger, retires upstairs with him-a fateful stroke of luck that creates unexpected complications when, shortly thereafter, gunshots shatter the stillness of Mr. Paradiso's house. In no time at all the survivors are talking to Acting Lt. Frank Delson, of Detroit Homicide, and not long thereafter, one of them is falling for him. Leonard, who's too cool to simply recycle the salt-and-pepper romance of Out of Sight (1996), crowds his canvas with the survivors and interested parties to another massacre across town and brings the two crimes to a slow boil-definitely a cool tactic, but one that entangles him with lowlifes who are a lot less interesting than his romantic leads. Thistime, in fact, the hero and heroine have a pretty easy time of it. Nice for them, anyway. First printing of 200,000; author tour
San Jose Mercury News
“It’s a blast.”
Detroit Free Press
“The dialogue and the characters crackle ...MR. PARADISE is a perfect crime caper from a master.”
New York Times Book Review
“You will love this excellent book.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt

Mr. Paradise
A Novel

Chapter One

Late afternoon Chloe and Kelly were having cocktails at the Rattlesnake Club, the two seated on the far side of the dining room by themselves: Chloe talking, Kelly listening, Chloe trying to get Kelly to help her entertain Anthony Paradiso, an eighty-four-year-old guy who was paying her five thousand a week to be his girlfriend.

Now Chloe was offering Kelly a cigarette from a pack of Virginia Slims, the long ones, the 120's.

They'd made their entrance, the early after-work crowd still looking, speculating, something they did each time the two came in. Not showgirls. More like fashion models: designer casual wool coats, oddball pins, scarves, big leather belts, definitely not bimbos. They could be sisters, tall, the same type, the same nose jobs, both remembered as blonds, their hair cropped short. Today they wore hats, each a knit cloche down on her eyes, and sunglasses. It was April in Detroit, snow predicted.

Now they were lighting the cigarettes.

The waitress, a young blond named Emily, came through the room of white tablecloths and place settings with their drinks, alexanders straight up, with gin. She said as she always did, "I'm sorry, but you're not supposed to smoke in here. It's okay in the bar."

Kelly looked at Emily in her black pants and starched white shirt. "Has your boss said anything?"

"He hasn't yet."

"So forget about it," Chloe said. "He likes us." She brought a Ritz-Carlton ashtray from her coat pocket and placed it on the table, Emily watching.

She said, "They're always from a different hotel. I like the one, I think it's from the Sunset Marquis?"

"It's one of my favorites," Chloe said. "Next time I'm in L.A. I'll pick up a few more."

Emily said, "Cool hats," and left.

Kelly watched her moving through the empty tables.

"Emily's a little weird."

"She's a fan," Chloe said. "Fans are weird."

"I'll bet anything she comes back with a catalog."

"What're you in this month?"

"Saks, Neiman Marcus -- she'll have Victoria's Secret."

"Remember she asked if I modeled," Chloe said, "and I told her now and then but mostly I did hands? She said, Oh."

"You called it hand jobs. Show her your Playboy spread, she'll freak," Kelly said, and saw Emily coming back through the tables with a catalog, holding it to her breast with two hands, Victoria's Secret, a look of pain on Emily the waitress's face, hesitant now as she stood before Kelly.

"I hope you guys don't think I'm a pest."

"I don't mind," Kelly said. "What page?"

Emily gave her the catalog and a Sharpie. "Sixteen, the Second Skin Collection. Could you sign it like right above your navel?"

"I'm in the Seamless Collection," Kelly said, "Second Skin's the next page," and wrote Kelly in black over bare flesh. "I'm in another one somewhere."

"Page forty-two," Emily said, "the new low-rise bikini. And on the next page, the low-rise v-string and low-rise thong?"

Kelly turned pages until she was looking at herself in white panties. "You want each one signed?"

"If you wouldn't mind. I really appreciate it."

Chloe said to her, "Which one do you have on?"

Emily made a face, clenching her teeth. "I'm trying the v-string."

"Feels good?"

Emily squirmed a little. "It's okay."

"I can't wait to get them off," Kelly said. She handed Emily the catalog.

"I kinda like the way a thong grabs you," Chloe said, "but haven't worn one lately, and if you want to know why, ask the old man."

Emily left.

And Chloe said, "Aren't you glad you're not a waitress?"

"Yeah, but I think I'd be good at it," Kelly said. "I'd take orders for a table without writing anything down. The woman with blue hair, the whitefish, the scotch drinker, pickerel. And I wouldn't call them 'you guys.'"

"Your style," Chloe said, "make it look easy. But you fly to New York to work instead of living there."

"The traffic," Kelly said. "You spend most of your time waiting for it to move."

"So what? You're sitting in a limo."

"I like to drive."

"You could work for Vicki's full-time, make a lot more money."

"I do okay."

"Go to parties with movie stars --"

"Who want to jump you."

"What's wrong with that?"

"I have to be in love. Or think I am."

They sipped their alexanders and smoked their cigarettes and Chloe said, "Hon ... I desperately need you."

"I can't, I have to take my dad to the airport."

"He's still here?"

"Playing the slots all day and giving me advice at dinner. He thinks I should get a new agent."

"Isn't he a barber?"

"He has time to think about things."

"Get him a taxi."

"I want to be sure he makes the flight. My dad drinks."

"Can't we work around it? I'm talking about three hours, max. By midnight the old guy's asleep in his chair. He even nods off while we're talking, drops his cigar. I have to watch he doesn't set himself on fire."

"Not tonight," Kelly said, but then began to let herself give in a little because they were good friends and had been sharing a loft the past couple of years, Kelly saying, "If I did go with you sometime, would I have to do anything?"

She wouldn't mind getting a look at Mr. Paradiso.

The way Kelly understood the arrangement, the old man was laying out five thousand a week to have Chloe available, all to himself. It was a lot for not having to do much, almost twice what Kelly made in her underwear ...

Mr. Paradise
A Novel
. Copyright © by Elmore Leonard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Elmore Leonard wrote more than forty books during his long career, including the bestsellers Raylan, Tishomingo Blues, Be Cool, Get Shorty, and Rum Punch, as well as the acclaimed collection When the Women Come Out to Dance, which was a New York Times Notable Book. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty and Out of Sight. The short story "Fire in the Hole," and three books, including Raylan, were the basis for the FX hit show Justified. Leonard received the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He died in 2013.

Brief Biography

Bloomfield Village, Michigan
Date of Birth:
October 11, 1925
Place of Birth:
New Orleans, Louisiana
B.Ph., University of Detroit, 1950

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Mr. Paradise 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bravewarrior More than 1 year ago
CD/unabridged/fiction: This is my second Elmore Leonard audio. I was reading Airtight [[ASIN:1612185665 Airtight]] at the same time, which was ironic because they're both involve double-cross. It's an interesting plot that involves a double murder and stupid criminals. I was wondering where the story was going at first and it quickly becomes a murder. I was surprised that the audio was unabridged as it is only six discs long. The narration is done well even though I had to rewind a few times because Robert Forster can narrate too quickly at times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really like Elmore Leonard and I liked this, but it was far from my favorite by this author. J.R. Locke, Author of Possible Twenty, a Gangster Tale, & Down and Out in Manhattan
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Paradise was a cool book if you are looking for an easy read. This is the second book I have read from this author and they were both very simple and easy to predict, but with a touch of suspense. Great for people who are not die hard thriller fans.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is excellent, I normally don't like mysteries and murder crimes, but this was right up my ally!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Academy Award nominee Robert Forster is just the man to deliver the snappy phrasing and cool dialogue that has won Elmore Leonard legions of fans. While this is an 8 hour Unabridged version it's over far too soon leaving listeners thoroughly entertained yet eager for more. With 'Mr. Paradise' Leonard returns to Detroit and environs. Anthony Paradiso (Mr. Paradise) is an 80+ retired lawyer who gets his jollies from watching reruns of old University of Michigan football games. But, what's a Wolverine game without cheerleaders? For $5,000 a month Paradiso hires escort Chloe Robinette to provide the sis-boom-bahs as only she can. All is well until the evening Chloe invites her friend, Kelly Barr (who is equally lithe and lovely) to join the fun. Before half time two hit men have broken in and done in Paradiso and Chloe. Kelly assumes Chloe's identity to gain access to the late lawyer's safety deposit box. Enter Frank Delsa, determined Detroit homicide detective. He falls for Kelly and she falls for him........or, would she rather have the contents of the safety deposit box? If you know Leonard you can guess how this ends, but what a treat it is getting there!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is not exciting. The writing needs improvement. It appears more like an attempt to write another book just for the sake of writing another book. The story was hard to follow as well as the tone and language used by the characters. Everything had a poor description. I was not able to visualize any of the characters or the scenes. Several chapters had one character doing one thing where in the next chapter the character is already doing something else 3 hours later.