Blood Of Paradise
by David Corbett
Fiction – 448 pages
Random House Mortalis
Inspired by the eloquent, yet deeply disturbing Greek tragedies of long ago, Blood of Paradise, is a dark novel, penned by one of today’s most passionate writers. David Corbett’s third novel, shines an unflinching and unapologetic light into the backrooms and back-alleys, corporate boardrooms and finally, the lofty and corrupt offices of the politicians sworn to serve and protect. Whether defined or haunted by, his late father’s choices, Jude McManus left Chicago and joined the Army. He now provides protection services for high profile executives in El Salvador. Assigned to guard Axel Odelberg, an American hydrologist, hired to evaluate the effects a proposed bottling plant expansion may have on local water supplies. The powers that be expect a “rubber stamp report”, and will go to any lengths to ensure both favorable findings and total silence.A brilliant liar and master manipulator, Bill Malvasio knew Jude McManus was an easy target. Exploiting his father’s memory and using their friendship as a base, Malvasio spun a story filled with half truths. He explained to Jude that an old warrant prevented him from returning to the US. He asked Jude to escort the ex-cop, Phil Strock (the third member of his father’s disgraced trio) back to El Salvador.While not entirely certain of Malvasio’s intentions, Jude agrees.
However, he soon realizes all is not what it seems, as he finds himself in the eye of life-threatening storm fueled by greed and maintained through violence. The true extent of the danger slowly becomes apparent as the Salvadoran mob flexes its’ muscle, ordering the murder of a female villager that complained her well was destroyed by the water project. Soon thereafter, an infant is kidnapped to guarantee her mother’s silence.The characters are flawed, three dimensional and absolutely believable. Throughout the novel recognizing good and evil becomes more difficult, as the reader begins to question their own moral assumptions and attitudes. The plot and subplots work well together and often propel each other forward. Intricately layered and complicated, Corbett revs up the suspense and the stakes as the novel hurtles toward the conclusion.With a practiced eye for detail, Corbett’s thoughts on the modern predicament are as insightful as they are chilling. Acknowledging the complexity of the politics and the difficult decisions being made by politicians, lends a realism to the novel, making it almost impossible to discern the line between fact and fiction. He weaves a myriad of seemingly disparate situations in the world – gang activity, terrorism, US foreign policy, corruption, murder, – into a seamless story that ties everything together. Exceptionally well written, with haunting depictions that capture both the beauty and the despair of a land and its people, which no longer seem so foreign or distant.Powerful, shocking and thought provoking, Blood of Paradise is a challenging read that I would recommend to all who enjoy serious thrillers. For interested readers, Corbett included a dossier at the end of the book, describing the political atmosphere of El Salvador.
A dense and complex read, I often found myself returning to previous chapters to clarify the various aspects linking the characters. (A character list was an absolute necessity.) Also, I was frustrated by the use of undefined and obscure Spanish words that could not be interpreted by the surrounding text.