Paradise City by Joe Thomas
(Arcadia, 2017)

Paradise City

by Joe Thomas

Mario Leme is a low-ranking detective in the São Paulo civil police. Every day he drives through the favela known as Paraisópolis – Paradise City. It’s a pilgrimage: a year ago his wife Renata was the victim of a bala perdida here – a stray bullet – in a conflict between drug dealers and the military police.

One morning, parked near the place where Renata died, he sees an SUV careen out of control. By the time the fire crew on the scene cut the driver loose, he’s dead. Leme catches a glimpse of the body before the military police cover it up, sees what he is sure are bullet wounds. But if the driver was murdered, why is the coroner saying the death was an accident?

Leme soon has evidence that Leo’s death was murder. Then, Leo’s girlfriend turns up dead as well.

And if they were killed deliberately, perhaps Renata was too…

Paradise City is a crime novel, but also a love story in retrospect. It is the first in a projected series of novels featuring Mario Leme, all set in Brazil.


Paradise City is an exciting, dark and trenchant thriller, exposing the dark underbelly of Sao Paolo where money, politics and murder meet. Fresh, gripping and incredibly assured, Joe Thomas will be a name to watch in crime fiction.”
- Stav Sherez, author of The Devil's Playground
Great crime fiction hinges on a sense of place, and after returning to London after ten years living in the world in which he’s set his sophisticated debut, Thomas proves an adroit guide to a city that has developed at dizzying speed.”
- GQ
Paradise City introduces Joe Thomas as a distinct voice in crime fiction”
- Susanna Jones, author of The Earthquake Bird and When Nights Were Cold