Meg's Reviews > Dark Paradise

Dark Paradise by Gene Desrochers
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If Sherlock Holmes is known for his brilliant eccentricity, Miss Marple for her unassuming acuity, and Precious Ramotswe for her warm curiosity, Boise Montague is likely to become endeared for his blumbering loyalty. He’s the detective version of a cuddly alcoholic Winnie the Pooh. The private investigator and narrator of Gene Desrocher’s Dark Paradise, Montague flees the consequences of one investigation, only to seek out another in his home country of St. Thomas. A delightful and politically relevant crime novel, Dark Paradise transports the reader to the intricacies of island culture as the caring, but floundering protagonist digs into the past.

Montague comes home to the Caribbean island of his youth, hoping to reconnect with his old pals, only to discover they weren’t really who he’d thought they’d become. Following a hunch that all is not as it appears, Montague gets recruited by an eager journalist, the spunky Dana Goode, into yet another investigation. The bouncy Tigger to Montague’s Pooh, Goode is energetically determined to dig deeper and deeper into her stories and insists on pulling Montague along. Both of them have a penchant for stakeouts, but rarely a well-drafted plan, which often puts them in the dangerous positions that keep the reader riveted.

This detective novel’s greatest achievement is in the way it poignantly addresses the relationships between the diverse people who call the island home. Desrochers develops the complexity of the Caribbean setting through a myriad of colorful characters including the local Lebanese shop owners, drug-dealing Rastafarians, God-praising neighbors, and white supremacist thugs. The author’s use of island dialect and the main character’s sentimental attachment to neighborhood establishments take the reader on a tour of St. Thomas from the perspective of a local.

A bit clunky at first, as the author tries to tie in the protagonist’s background with the forthcoming plot, the introduction of Montague’s partner in crime-investigating quickens the pace and excitement. The highlights of the novel are the human connections the hero forms with the locals and the author’s development of these supporting characters, who prove complicated and endearing. A few loose threads in the plot (like when the author gets a call from his mother he never returns) and grammatical errors in the text notwithstanding, the book is a pleasant read and leaves the reader with a sense of the value of human connection and community, and the repercussions of intolerance.
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Reading Progress

July 8, 2018 – Started Reading
July 31, 2018 – Finished Reading
August 16, 2018 – Shelved

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