The Paradise Affair: A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery

Written by Bill Pronzini
Review by Bonnie DeMoss

It is 1898 in San Francisco, and John Quincannon is on the tail of two swindlers, Lonesome Jack Vereen and Nevada Ned Nagle, who have fled to Hawaii with a considerable amount of cash and bearer bonds belonging to his client. His partner and now wife, Sabina (Carpenter), has managed to arrange a honeymoon of sorts, as she joins her husband on his trip to locate Vereen and Nagle. They’re soon separated, though, as Quincannon follows his prey to the Big Island and Sabina remains behind with their hosts in Honolulu.

I found the first third of the book to move very slowly. A lot of time is spent on voyage preparation, the actual voyage, and arrival in Hawaii, but very little of interest occurs. The book picks up steam as Quincannon’s investigation and pursuit in Hawaii finally begin. We follow Quincannon from one seedy situation to another as he tries to find the criminals, bring them to justice, and recover the stolen goods. The point of view changes in various chapters between John and Sabina, who gets embroiled in an investigation back in Honolulu, when a neighbor is mysteriously shot and killed. Was it an accident, suicide, or murder?

Both mysteries are interesting, although one is fairly easy to solve. The description of Hawaii, the ancient Hawaiian beliefs and legends, and the way of life at that time are intriguing. Fans of the Carpenter and Quincannon series, of which this is the ninth installment, will enjoy this book. It can be read as a standalone, but beware of spoilers regarding the previous books. I also recommend this novel to anyone interested in Hawaiian historical fiction.