WELCOME TO PARADISE by Laurence Shames


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The premise of Shames’s new Florida crime comedy couldn’t be simpler: a vacationing innocent is mistaken for an up-and-coming mobster. New Jersey furniture mogul Moe Kleinman doesn’t know that the Paradise Motel his new travel agent has booked the winner of his annual sales contest into is actually something of a gay nudist colony. Since Alan Tuschman, the big softie who’s been winning these contests almost every year, is not that kind of a guy, his vacation would look less than ideal even if nothing else went wrong. But plenty of other things do go wrong, starting, even before he’s checked into the Paradise, when a pair of hoods named Chop Parilla and Squid Berman misidentify Tuschman as Big Al Marracotta, the diminutive goodfella who’s not only taken over Nicky Scotto’s New York fish market franchise but fed Nicky some clams that violently disagreed with him. Nicky’s too fair to have the guy whacked, but he’s willing to pay Chop and Squid $30,000 to put him through a week of hell in the most fiendishly inventive ways they can. The only obstacles to Tuschman’s escalating nightmare are his equable attitude toward life’s little mishaps, his budding friendship with Big Al’s girlfriend Katy Sansone, and Squid’s unexpected artistic conscience, which won’t let any of his dirty tricks be cheap or easy. Fans will recognize the character types—the good-natured sucker, the under- average-IQ lowlifes, the moll with the heart of gold—from Shames’s earlier Mafia farces (Virgin Heat, 1997, etc.). What they won’t find here are the curlicues of twist and counterplot that make the tiniest oops resound throughout most of his novels like a belch at a funeral. What you see is what you get, and most readers will know long before hapless Tuschman does exactly what’s coming and when. The results are as tartly amusing as ever, but a lot more predictable—a good introduction for newcomers, but a letdown for fans.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-375-50252-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1999


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