The Paragon Hotel by Lindsay Faye is a recent novel which took me by surprise. The author used this fictional story to draw a parallel between two dark organizations which didn’t appear similar to me. In this story, we find a young woman of Italian heritage traveling cross country from New York to Portland with two slugs in her gut. On the train, she encounters an African-American porter who safely delivers her to a “blacks only” hotel thereby saving her life.
If that isn’t strange enough, the plot is about to get even more incredulous. Flipping between then and now, the author fills-in the back story on the woman from New York with the moniker of “Nobody” and her new heart-throb Max, the porter. And then an orphan melato child disappears from the Paragon Hotel. Now, hotel patrons are searching the woods for the missing boy and the Klu Klux Klan is after the African-American search party because, Portland doesn’t take a liking to blacks in their town! That’s not even mentioning a menacing police officer, illegal drugs and alcohol, or the male cross-dresser!
I’m beginning to feel like a barker at a carnival about now. Oh yes, there’s one of those in the story as well. In my opinion, there are many, too many, side shows inhabiting this action packed novel. It made my head spin because it encompassed numerous disparate themes which I had difficulty connecting.
The thing is, I kind of enjoyed the book because there’s a noir flavor to it. The main character Alice is a wise-cracking mafia snitch. Even with two recently removed slugs, she reminded me of Dashiell Hammet’s character, Sam Spade.
This story failed to awaken any emotions in me, but does have its merits. I’d love to hear feedback from anyone who has read The Paragon Hotel. The jury is still out here!
Please note, I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.