When Abbey MacDougal’s murdered body turns up on the floor of her southern California mansion, listing agents Jamal Wade and Matt Singer set aside their real estate careers to return to detective work. While Matt and Jamal have long experience with the players and stories in their small affluent beach town, they’ve stumbled into a cover up that goes deeper than they imagined, drawing in friends, family, and the town’s local sovereigns, Police Chief Ben Black and Mayor Reed Lockhart.
Jack Polo’s written a tight, solid plot–the necessary underpinning of any good detective novel. It is more of a how-done-it than who-done-it, and that’s just fine. We think we know who killed Abbey, and most of the community is certain they know who killed Abbey, but how could a killer with a solid alibi have done it? It is especially satisfying that Abbey’s murder, which we encounter on the very first page, opens the door into a denser, more complicated maze of intrigue and crime. Polo is masterful at peppering the plot with stray comments and mundane details that perfectly propel the story, eventually explaining how it all went down. His action scenes serve the plot well; they are juicily unpleasant without being overdone.
Action scenes and propulsive details aside, this is a detective novel with a lot of fine, fun, witty, culturally rich dialogue that wraps itself around the plot and carries readers along. The sharp, humane energy between Matt and Jamal, and between Matt and his father is enjoyable; these men have each other’s back. They are satisfyingly earthy, human good guys and their bright goodwill nicely amplifies and counterbalances the sordidness of the bad guys.
While plot and dialogue would be enough to make this a pleasing read, Polo also excels at creating memorable characters, as well as describing the characteristics of a small town where everyone knows each other. From the community-wide familiarity with Ben Black’s physical assets, to the nattering professor, to the Bogart-quoting gang banger Ramón, to the main characters Matt and Jamal, there’s never a false note.
Jack Polo’s detective novel DEATH IN PARAĺSO, is a thoroughly satisfying, balanced, well-told detective story with strong characterizations, snappy dialogue and a plot that is tight, intricate, and clever.
~Ellen Graham for IndieReader