Criminal Paradise

Criminal Paradise

by Steven M. Thomas
4.8 11

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Criminal Paradise 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
oldwoodsman More than 1 year ago
I read this in two sittings. It is a powerful page-turner. The story drew me in and wouldn't let me go. The "good guy" in this book is actually a criminal who gets mixed up in some dirty business in Orange County, California and ends up rescuing a kidnapped girl from a businessman/gangster/murderer who is in the process of going insane! The book doesn't need the afterward, which is a bit of an anticlimax, but other than that it is a first-rate read.
SuperSaul More than 1 year ago
Great characters, killer plot, and a wonderful evocation of the beautiful, mysterious Southern California setting. If you have ever lived in or visited Orange County or Long Beach, California, you will enjoy this debut novel which was nominated as best first novel by the International thriller Writers.
DonDonSays More than 1 year ago
I was blown away by this book. Exciting, entertaining and beautifully written, it is one of the best crime fiction books I have ever read -- and I've read a lot of them. It is hard to believe that it is Steven M. Thomas's first book. The action starts when Robert "Rob" Rivers and his partner Switch rob a restaurant in Orange County that gets them tangled up with a psychopathic criminal and puts them on the trail of a kidnapped girl who they try to rescue. The villain is one of the scariest -- and most original -- I've come across. The action scenes are great, the jokes funny, the conclusion powerful and bittersweet. A great first novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Criminal Paradise is the Cadillac of crime fiction, the debut novel by Steven Thomas and lets hope there are more to come. This is serious, hard-hitting suspense at its best. The story is set in sunny southern California, primarily Orange County. It revolves around the life of Robert Rivers, a lonely, professional criminal with a good soul and enough discipline to keep from getting caught. A discovery Rivers makes during the opening heist triggers a series of disturbing encounters and events that stir up inner demons which gnaw at him until he finds himself over his head in a brutal world of underground, organized crime. The only way out for Rivers is to get what he came for¿. There are a handful of classic characters in this book that I would love to see return for a sequel. Switch and Reggie are a perfect balance to the Rivers character. What I love most about this book is Thomas¿s knack for detail. There are several very intense moments in this book that are so realistic, they are truly scary and his use of words at several points (when Rivers is reminiscing) is quite poetic. Much more than entertaining crime fiction, I found this to be a touching artistic achievement of a novel¿..sure to become one of the most claimed of 2008. I¿ll be looking forward to a follow up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For once a great crime novel that doesn't sterotype all of the characters as dastardly and full of hate. Robby Rivers is one of the most likeable criminals I have ever met. He and his friends are a joy to get to know. This story takes many intersting and unexpected twists. I especially liked the way the author used the beautiful Sourthern California landscape to draw you into a sense of peace, even when your character was speeding away from the sceen of a crime. Thomas' attention to detail is perfect, as he seems to know exactly what will keep your interest at what point in the novel. It's hard to believe this is his first full length novel. I look forward to taking many more great rides with him.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Criminal Paradise¿ is possibly the best mystery/crime novel I have ever read, and I read a lot of them. By the end of the first chapter, I was in love with the main character Robert Rivers and I liked him even more as the story progressed. Rob is a high-class thief who operates carefully along the Southern California Coast, doing burglaries and stickups. While robbing a restaurant on Harbor Boulevard in Orange County, he and his partner Switch find a photograph of a young Vietnamese girl that turns their lives upside down. It leads to them battling with some bad guys that make them look like angels by comparison as they try to save the girl and put her captors out of business. I love the coastal setting of the novel. Every place that Rob and Switch go, I felt like I was with them. There are a number of other great characters besides Rob and Switch, including Reggie, an old criminal buddy from St. Louis who shows up in time to help battle the bad guys, Mrs. Pilly Rob¿s funny landlady, and Song, the beautiful Vietnamese girl. Each character has so much personality you will feel like you know them personally. Song will touch something in every woman, and because of Rob she comes out victorious and strong in the end. I hope there are many more Rob Rivers novels to come. Do yourself a favor and read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A small-time Orange County crook sticks up a restaurant and walks away with tens of thousands of dollars in cash. But a picture of a young Vietnamese girl mixed in with the money gnaws at his mind. Something about the girl in the photograph disturbs Rob Rivers, to a point of no return. Then Reggie, an old mysterious friend from out of the past suddenly resurfaces in Rivers¿ life. And his long-time partner in crime, Switch, is having thoughts of going straight. Can Rivers find the girl in the photo, reconcile with Reggie and face the possibility of going it alone in the dangerous world of armed robbery? The photograph of the young girl and Rivers¿ burning desire to set things right in his own life take him on a journey through Orange County¿s garish underworld, where he finds love, redemption and a deformed, grotesque monster villain, who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Criminal Paradise is a novel that possesses great literary and artistic quality, while at the same time truly captivating its readers with page-turning prose and dialog. An engaging story from beginning to end, Criminal Paradise announces the arrival of a strong new voice in literature, the next James M. Cain, Steven M. Thomas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
In ¿Criminal Paradise¿ first-time novelist Steven M. Thomas take us behind the glamorous façade of Newport Beach, California to discover a sordid underworld of violent gangsters involved in human trafficking and murder. Protagonist Robert Rivers is a criminal himself, but a good guy otherwise. He looks out for his friends and tries to plan jobs so that people don't lose anything but their money. Robbing a restaurant with his partner Switch, Rivers stumbles on the slave trading operation when he finds a picture of a young Asian girl along with an envelope full of cash in the restaurant safe. Concerned about the girl and curious about the money, he investigates and clashes with the gangsters. When he rescues the girl, all hell breaks loose as he and his associates battle the bad guys in Newport, Long Beach and San Pedro. Thomas¿ characters are vivid and original and his dialogue is superb. The story is fast paced and fun. There are moments of heart-pounding danger and excitement and other moments of lyrical beauty as Thomas brings Southern California¿s exotic environment to cinematic life. The character of Reggie is hilarious and Rivers¿ landlady, Mrs. Pilly, is very funny, too. Even though the action is intense in places and some of the characters are grotesque, the story stays grounded in realism. There are a lot of fascinating details about criminal activity and a gritty naturalism to the hardcore scenes. Some people probably won't like the epilogue where Thomas explains one aspect of the plot that would probably have been better left unexplained, but, over all, this is one of the best thrillers I've read in years. I hope Thomas brings Robert Rivers and his crew back for an encore.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book reminds of Elmore Leonard¿s best stuff. It is a gripping, action-packed adventure set in an exotic locale told from the point of view of an easy-going armed robber and burglar. Robert Rivers lives in Orange County, California. His partner Switch is just up the 405 in Long Beach. They make a good living robbing restaurants and rich people¿s mansions, trying to avoid hurting anyone in the process and enjoying life in between jobs. But then they discover a picture of a naked young Vietnamese girl in a safe they rob that haunts Rivers, who lost touch with his daughter during his drinking days. Trying to find out who the girl is, he tangles with a slave-trading psychopath and his henchmen, and gun battles erupt along the idyllic Southern California coast as Rivers tries to rescue the young woman. Thomas¿ writing is literary quality, capturing the beauty of the coast and the lure of life in sunny Newport Beach where Rivers lives. His characters are distinct and original and sometimes frightening. The book is exciting and funny and full of surprises. If you like crime fiction, don¿t miss this one.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In California Robert Rivers and Switch rob the Cow Town restaurant. However when the two thieves open the safe to take the cash from inside of it, they find a fascinating photograph of a naked underage Vietnamese female they assume that the restaurant owner Orange County business mogul Lewis McFadden is using and perhaps selling teenage girls. Rivers enlists his biker friend Reggie England to help him break into McFadden's house. However they find a shocker tied to the bedposts is a Vietnamese girl who says her name is Song. They liberate Song taking her to Switch's home while he is out of town. Rivers and nineteen year old Song share a sexual encounter. McFadden recaptures her with plans to sell her at a slave auction, but also owes Rivers for his stealing of his merchandise and as an example for other such petty thieves. --- This is an interesting crime caper that loses some of its charm with the transformation of River from a likable heroic thief to a disappointing user-predator when he has sex with Song even if she is a consenting adult he becomes the serpent in CRIMINAL PARADISE turning off many readers. Still this is a deep look at the sex slave market alive and thriving, just ask River¿s Orange County landlady. --- Harriet Klausner