Eric Jerome Dickey has had a great deal of success, especially as
of late. His newest offering, THIEVES' PARADISE, despite an
occasional flaw or two, should follow in the successful footsteps
of its predecessors --- Dickey's two New York Times
bestsellers, LIAR'S GAME and BETWEEN LOVERS.
It should be noted at the outset that THIEVES' PARADISE is not an
easy book to stay with. It sometimes has trouble deciding whether
it wants to be straight fiction, mystery, or romance. It is all and
none of these, being, ultimately...a story. Nothing wrong with
that. The violence is graphic, sudden and to the point. If it seems
gratuitous to the unschooled, be advised that this is how it goes
down in large cities, more often than not. Although THIEVES'
PARADISE is set in Los Angeles, it could happen anywhere. In New
Orleans, for example, crime statistics released by the city
indicate that in the year 2001, 99 per cent of all of the homicides
there involved 1) drugs; 2) family disputes; and 3) arguments. It
is no different in the Los Angeles of THIEVES' PARADISE. There is
also some graphic sexual content, maybe a bit more than you might
be used to, though the individuals involved aren't doing anything
you haven't heard of.
With those caveats out of the way, onward and upward to the story.
THIEVES' PARADISE is primarily the story of Dante, a walking mass
of contradictions and complications. Dante is a graduate of the Los
Angeles juvenile penal system, and he has no intention of returning
to either his alma mater or to its graduate school. Having acquired
a computer job that allows him to support himself, Dante has no
reason to ever engage in criminal activity again.
Two events, however, conspire to derail his life. When Dante is
laid off from his job, his financial obligations make it difficult
for him to resist when Scamz, a criminal operator from his past,
comes calling with a proposition. Scamz is living large, and while
Dante does not necessarily aspire to his lifestyle, the offer that
Scamz makes to Dante will not only resolve Dante's financial
problems but also those of his friend, Jackson, and Dante's new
love Pam, who dreams of a future in Hollywood while she deals with
the nightmare of her past.
What is supposed to be salvation for Dante and his friends,
however, soon results in disaster, and Scamz's solutions get
everyone deeper into trouble instead of extricating them from it.
Before the caper is over Dante is left with some hard decisions
made harder by his inability to determine who is his enemy and who
is his true friend.
Dickey's unblinking view of the street and the people who populate
it is fully realized in THIEVES' PARADISE. While not a novel for
everyone, it will win fans among those who like their shot of the
street served straight up and uncut.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011