Saturday, December 22, 2007

Criminal Paradise

Criminal Paradise
Steven M. Thomas
Ballantine, Mar 2008, $24.95
ISBN 9780345497819

In California Robert Rivers and Switch rob the Cow Town restaurant. However when the two thieves open the safe to take the cash from inside of it, they find a fascinating photograph of a naked underage Vietnamese female; they assume that the restaurant owner Orange County business mogul Lewis McFadden is using and perhaps selling teenage girls.

Rivers enlists his biker friend Reggie England to help him break into McFadden's house. However they find a shocker; tied to the bedposts is a Vietnamese girl who says her name is Song. They liberate Song taking her to Switch's home while he is out of town. Rivers and nineteen year old Song share a sexual encounter. McFadden recaptures her with plans to sell her at a slave auction, but also owes Rivers for his stealing of his merchandise and as an example for other such petty thieves.

This is an interesting crime caper that loses some of its charm with the transformation of River from a likable heroic thief to a disappointing user-predator when he has sex with Song even if she is a consenting adult; he becomes the serpent in CRIMINAL PARADISE turning off many readers. Still this is a deep look at the sex slave market alive and thriving, just ask River’s Orange County landlady.

Harriet Klausner