cover image Paradise City

Paradise City

Joe Thomas. Arcadia, $15.95 trade paper (296p) ISBN 978-1-911350-12-5

Set in São Paulo, Brazil in 2012, British author Thomas’s tense debut, the first of a projected quartet, finds police detective Mario Leme still reeling from the death of his lawyer wife, Renata, apparently a random victim of gunfire between rival drug dealers a year earlier in the slum where she practiced. Leme has taken to haunting the intersection where Renata died; one morning while parked at the intersection, he witnesses a shooting death that he suspects is no accident, particularly after the victim’s girlfriend is later found dead. Though Leme’s superintendent tells him to stay away from the case, he pursues his own investigation, sensing the incident is somehow connected to Renata’s. What follows is a dark spiral through a world of corruption, destruction, disappearances, and deaths, all emanating from a powerful businessman who will stop at nothing to build up São Paulo in time for the 2014 World Cup. Constant references to São Paulo’s horrible traffic serve as a metaphor for the danger surrounding the heroic Leme. The action builds to an unexpected conclusion that feels fair but not quite satisfying. Crime fiction fans will look forward to Leme’s further exploits. (June)