Paradise Palms: Red Menace Mob
by Paul Haddad
Black Rose Writing

"Customers aren’t here to take in the news. They’re here to get away from it. Heavy-lidded barflies slump over cheap, stiff drinks, the stale air choked with cigarette smoke."

The title of this novel is the name of a hotel in Hollywood that has more or less outlived its use-by date. It's the central location in this homage to familial loyalty, nostalgia, deception, desperation, and eventually determination.

Set in the late 1950s, the down-on-its-heels inn now only attracts naive out-of-towners as guests or provides refuge for a smattering of decidedly odd permanent residents. The Shapiro family owns the place. Max, the patriarch, has recently buried his long-suffering wife and taken up with a much younger woman. Max's sons fear that their dear old dad will acquiesce to her and a mob-connected acquaintance, thereby depriving them of whatever may be left of the property as a potential inheritance. As most Californians are absorbed with Russia's initial space successes, Castro's machinations in Cuba, and the ever-expanding network of freeways in Los Angeles, the Shapiro brothers' attentions are focused on prostitution rings, gambling debts, mayhem, murder, and the revelation that they happen to have a black half-sister. Things only get stranger from there.

Author Haddad is a skillful storyteller who weaves an intricate tale. His characters vividly come to life on the page as he provides illuminating insights into their histories while simultaneously dramatizing their hijinks. His evocation of the post-war era in The City of Angels rings with authenticity. While a degree of sleaziness is part and parcel of his narrative, there resides an unobtrusive optimism in the way he tells his tale. Humor and irony are never far from one chapter to the next. Even with all the inherent chaos, one just might find oneself longing for a short stay at Paradise Palms.

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