The Paragon Hotel

Written by Lyndsay Faye
Review by J. Lynn Else

It’s 1921 during Prohibition, and “Nobody” Alice James is trying to get as far as possible from her previous life as a gun moll for the Italian mafia. She boards a train and follows it to the end of its line: Portland, Oregon. Thanks to the kindness of a train porter, Alice is taken to a place where she can heal from an infected and painful memento of her past. Once recovered, Alice discovers she’s staying in an all-black hotel, and many residents believe her an invader to their home. When a young mulatto boy disappears during a visit to the amusement park, Alice will throw herself into the search and in the process come face to face with the hatred of the rapidly growing Ku Klux Klan.

Lyndsay Faye yarns an engrossing tale with characters that leap off the page thanks to the author’s mastery of period dialect, providing some intriguing personality quirks. The plot explores the damage caused by anger, greed, and a longing for control. From rival Italian mobs to standing before a burning cross, our main character, Alice, must face the prejudices infringing upon her life and the lives of those she cares about. The mystery of the missing boy is made more intriguing by the way the characters are affected. At the book’s heart, Faye explores how people react to hardships in a sympathetic and honest light, twisting and turning the reader’s heart in many different directions. If you like a diverse cast of characters, gritty plot twists, and vivid period details, check out The Paragon Hotel.