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Mr. Paradise

by

Mr. Paradise Cover

 

 

Excerpt

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 ...

Copyright © 2004 by Elmore Leonard

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060083960
Author:
Leonard, Elmore
Publisher:
HarperTorch
Author:
by Elmore Leonard
Subject:
General
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Police Procedural
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Mystery-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Mass Market PB
Publication Date:
June 2005
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
6.80x4.22x1.02 in. .42 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

Mr. Paradise Used Mass Market
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages HarperTorch - English 9780060083960 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "[Leonard's] best novel since Out of Sight....Leonard has a feel for the wisecracking, no-nonsense quickness that drew lovers together in the romantic film comedies of the '30s....A reviewer who has written about more than one Leonard novel risks repeating himself because Leonard is so consistent. Maybe you've heard it before...but I'd be falling down on the job if I didn't say — once again — that Leonard has perhaps the most finely developed instinct for writing within the voices of his characters in contemporary American fiction....The plots of Leonard's books don't unfold with the breathlessness of thrillers but with a sense of inevitability that's derived from farce." (read the entire Salon.com review)
"Review" by , "[A] violent, hard-boiled, streetwise brand of romantic comedy....Leonard virtually invented this genre with Stick, and he's been doing it effortlessly ever since. Pure entertainment."
"Review" by , "[A] wonderfully rich, authentically human cast....The prose, as expected from Leonard, is perfect....Brilliantly constructed, wise and tough, this book, like so many recent Leonards, offers a master class in how to write a novel."
"Review" by , "While reading Mr. Paradise, one is serenely happy just to be reading it. Afterward, though, one may think back a little and note a few loose ends....It is unputdownable, packed with excruciating suspense and I couldn't stop reading it."
"Review" by , "Mr. Paradise is filled with ironic quotation marks, though he doesn't put them on the page. Tone is everything....[An] excellent book."
"Review" by , "I've gone on record suggesting that the next time the members of the Swedish Academy think about giving the Nobel Prize for literature to an American, they take a look at Elmore Leonard. Mr. Paradise...doesn't give me any reason to change my mind."
"Review" by , "Not a whole lot [happens], by the standard of better recent Leonard books like Tishomingo Blues....But Mr. Leonard still sets the gold standard for crime-related patter."
"Review" by , "Leonard...entangles [his story] with lowlifes who are a lot less interesting than his romantic leads. This time, in fact, the hero and heroine have a pretty easy time of it. Nice for them, anyway."
"Review" by , "Leonard is in fine form...with this gem of a novel....Leonard handles both aspects of the story with aplomb: the developing relationship is kept almost as interesting as the investigation of the case. A study in cool, gritty style..."
"Review" by , "Mr. Paradise is a perfect crime caper from a master, exactly that, and what more do you want?"
"Review" by , "[A] flaccid nonmystery that seems amateurish even for a first-time author. Luckily, with 38 books preceding this one, there's enough old Leonard to go around until his next effort, which we (dare we say it?) assume will be better. (Grade: C)"
"Review" by , "With a talent that makes it all look so easy, Leonard pulls the reader immediately into his world with his trademark brilliant dialogue, shady characters, sneaky plot twists and unerring faith that...most people will really mess things up."
"Review" by , "Mr. Paradise, the 38th novel from the 78-year-old master, is his worst since...well, you have to go back a long way....Look, Leonard at his worst is better than 98 of 100 other authors at their best."
"Review" by , "Mr. Paradise is probably not Leonard's best work, but it's still far better than most current popular fiction. He reaches down to the gritty underside of American cities and finds humor, compassion and even love, without ever indulging in a trace of sentimentality."
"Review" by , "The criminals are ruthless but distressingly normal. They are often humorously careless or stupid....It's a nasty, funny story, a great way to pass a day."
"Review" by , "A more than characteristically satisfying Leonard-like mix of mayhem, tart dialogue, dark humor, and trick-footed grammar."
"Synopsis" by , In his first Detroit homicide book in more than 20 years, the New York Times bestselling author mixes football, two corpses, two angry hit men, a safe deposit box full of loot, an overworked detective, and a beautiful witness for a fabulous read.
"Synopsis" by , “Sharp as an ice pick….You will love this excellent book.”
—New York Times Book Review

Elmore Leonard is the undisputed master, the “King Daddy of crime writers” (Seattle Times), in the august company of the all-time greats of mystery/noir/crime fiction genre: John D. MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, et al. The creator of such unforgettable classics as Stick, Out of Sight, and Get Shorty—not to mention the character of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, lately of TVs hit series Justified—Leonard is in fine form with Mr. Paradise. A riveting Detroit-based thriller enlivened by Leonards trademark razor-sharp dialogue, Mr. Paradise follows a smart Victorias Secret models attempt to score big after surviving a double murder in a millionaires mansion…with a lonely cop acting as spoiler.

"Synopsis" by , In hindsight, Victoria's Secret model Kelly Barr thinks maybe it wasn't such a great idea to accompany her callgirl roommate Chloe to Tony Paradiso's house. The wealthy, eighty-four-year-old retired Motor City lawyer's idea of fun was innocent enough: watching old Michigan football games on TV while a sexy companion shakes her pom-poms and prances around topless in a U of M cheerleader's outfit. On this particular night, though, two killers decide to get into the action, leaving Chloe and "Mr. Paradise" dead in the old man's living room while Kelly is elsewhere with Tony's right-hand man. There is a bright spot, an opportunity for a very profitable score, provided that Kelly can convince the cops she's somebody else. But Homicide Detective Frank Delsa isn't stupid, even if he is lonely, good-hearted...and about to sign up for more trouble than he ever bargained for.
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