Denlinger’s Publishers, 2000
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood
Historical Mystery, New York 1847
Peter VanBrunt is accused of a murder he didn't do. Who does he think
of to help him? Edgar Allan Poe. Why? Poe is an old academy chum who owes
him money. The detective in charge agrees to share his investigation with
Poe. Why? He admires Poe's detective stories. Sergeant Jonathan Goode
tracks Poe down in a beer dive, pulls him out of a stupor, and puts his
proposition. Readily acknowledging the obligations of a gentleman, Poe
agrees. Do we believe it? Yes, we do.
The emotional dynamic comes from the relationship between the burly, modest Jonathan Goode and the brilliant, tortured Edgar Allan Poe. It is refreshing to spend time in the company of these honorable gentlemen. Throughout most of the book, we get to know the characters only through what they say and do. It makes the style distractingly spare at times, but there is emotion between the lines. As the characters warm up to each other they bare more of their souls, and we get to know them well. There is one thing that is usually missing from this book, and that is the reader’s you-are-there experience created when an author accurately conveys the physical sensations of his characters.
Author E.M. Schorb has a long resume of published poetry and the awards
won for it. When a poet makes the transition to prose, the first question
we want answered is, can he write prose, or does the story drown in words?
The answer this time is, definitely he can write prose. He leaves the
right things unsaid. He is at least as successful writing pencil line
sketches as he is doing gold inlay.
If I were to guess why PARADISE SQUARE was published in e-book form, I would say that some editor perceived a glut in the market of the historical-figure-as-detective genre. (Possibly the author was stubborn about his unorthodox chapter structure, too.) In case there is a glut in the market, this is one detective who should survive.Oct 2000 Original Version Published on the Independent Reviews Site Sep 2003 Revised Version
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