cover image Criminal Paradise

Criminal Paradise

Steven M. Thomas, , read by Patrick Lawlor. . Blackstone Audio, $29.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-4332-0951-2

Patrick Lawlor's youthful, upbeat delivery is a fine fit for wiseguy mysteries (like Robert Crais's The Monkey's Raincoat ), but it's something of a mismatch for a lean, gritty tale like Thomas's debut thriller. Tough but humane professional thief Rob Rivers knocks over a Southern California steak house and uncovers photographic evidence of what appears to be a sex slave operation that his conscience won't let him ignore. Through his first-person narration, Rivers says he has been at the game long enough to be thinking about retiring. Lawlor makes him sound as if he's still a novice, a particularly inappropriate interpretation considering that the thief has to do battle with several hardcore baddies. Add to that rapes, torture and lots of violence, and it becomes pretty clear this is no country for young (sounding) men. Simultaneous release with the Ballantine hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 3). (Apr.)