‘Paradise Palms: Red Menace Mob’ by Los Angeles Times Bestselling Author Paul Haddad

Los Angeles Times Bestselling Author Paul Haddad (10,000 Steps a Day in L.A.;High-Fives, Pennant Drives, and Fernandomania) has released his new book Paradise Palms: Red Menace Mob (published by Black Rose Writing on July 8, 2021). 

Paradise Palms: Red Menace Mob is a hard-boiled noir crime fiction set in Los Angeles. As a native Angeleno himself, Haddad has leveraged his deep knowledge of the city to inform the book’s historical fiction, with many scenes based on real-life locations and events. 

Recommended for readers who enjoy family sagas and crime fiction – fans of Elmore Leonard, L.A. Confidential, The Godfather, and The Sopranos. Paradise Palms is driven by a gangster underworld and a family with dark secrets emanating from a Jewish family patriarch. Though it takes place in the ‘50s, its themes resonate today. Systemic racism and LGBTQ stigmas form important subplots. It would appeal to readers who appreciate more depth and humanity in their characters.

Kirkus Reviews says “the writing is vividly descriptive, snarky, and funny, but it doesn’t shy away from engaging with serious issues, such as homophobia, racism, and police corruption” while the U.S. Review of Books calls it “an intricate tale that rings with authenticity.”

Synopsis: 

It is October 1957. A time of Eisenhower conformity, police and mob strongholds, and Red Scare paranoia. A relic of Hollywood’s Golden Age, the aging Paradise Palms Hotel is on the brink of change. David Shapiro – eldest son of recently widowed Max Shapiro – has assumed a leadership role. But the more he digs into the hotel’s business, the more he questions who his father is. It’s not just the tenuous ties to gangster Mickey Cohen, who is trying to commandeer ‘The Palms,” but also the sudden appearance of a mysterious African American guest named Rae Lynn, who improbably rises in stature. As long-buried secrets come to light, David’s battle to keep the family intact takes a tragic turn. His actions mirror an America lurching from the surface simplicity of the ’50s to the turmoil of the 1960s in this riveting neo-noir family saga.

Book Trailer: Available on YouTube

NOTE: This book contains a criminal character who, on very rare occasions, utters ethnic and racial epithets in a manner consistent with social mores of the time (America in the 1950s). Please be advised the book is not for children or those who may take issue with reading offensive language.


Praise:

“A neo-noir flash bang with heart and dark humor… the Cohen Brothers meet James Ellroy.” — Donald H. Hewitt, Screenwriter, Oscar-winning Spirited Away

“Paradise Palms is a hopeless hotel located at the bitter end of Hollywood’s Golden Age.  The story hums, the historic setting shines, and the colorful cast of characters keeps the pages turning.”— S.W. Lauden, Author of the Greg Salem PI series

“A finely-detailed story that recalls the period aesthetics of Mad Men and mixes it up with a noirish vibe… The read goes down smooth as champagne and leaves the reader wanting more.”— Slamdance Film Festival, Writers’ judges

“The setting is ‘50s L.A., but it plays contemporary. Racial prejudice, LGBTQ stigmas, and law/order corruption are among the themes effortlessly woven into this coil-tight yarn.”— Jake Gerhardt, Author, My Future Ex-Girlfriend

“A very strong historical period drama, revealing just enough compelling information without deflating the suspense with too much too soon… A lot of intriguing characters, placed in a clear moment of Hollywood and U.S. history.”— Austin Film Festival, Writers’ judges


EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 7:

The Shapiro family’s declining Paradise Palms Hotel is a microcosm of late-1950s Hollywood, renting out to hangers-on and misfits amidst a sea of vacant rooms.  And things just haven’t been the same since the death of MARTA SHAPIRO, who ran the hotel’s small dinette, The Easy.

But The Easy gets an unexpected shot in the arm with the arrival of a mysterious 18-year-old African American guest named RAE LYNN.  Longtime tenant DIRK HAVENHURST is the first to notice, putting LEO, one of Marta’s adult sons, in an awkward position.

The dining room is sparsely filled with the usual cast of characters. Dirk peruses the Daily Variety between sips of a Bloody Mary while Elron regales a doe-eyed betty with his Hollywood misadventures as a “can’t miss” actor. Leo pores over receipts on the bar counter, nursing a glass of milk. Squinting over his specs, he asks Art, “How was the birthday party?”
Franny returns with a large salad for Dirk, a scotch for Art. “Everything was peachy till I got to the balloon animals,” Art asserts, taking a satisfying sip. “The mom accused me of making a penis and kicked me out!”
“What were you trying to make?” Leo asks. “A dachshund?”
“A penis.”
The room breaks out in dirty laughter – all except Dirk. Chewing on his first bite of salad, he works the lettuce around his mouth and furrows his brow as if discovering a hair ball. He drops his fork with dramatic flourish.
“What the hell’s eating him?” Art says, drawn by the fork’s clank.
Dirk peers down at his plate, slack-jawed. All heads are now turned in his direction.
Leo drops his pencil. “Dirk?”
Dirk slides out of his booth and decamps for the kitchen.
“Shit,” Leo says, taking off after him, Franny on his tail.
Dirk swings through the doors and ambushes the food prep station, where Francisco is chopping onions. Seeing the excitable Dirk come toward him, he steps away from his stall, butcher’s knife between them. Leo and Franny linger at the doorway, ready to pounce if need be.
Dirk lifts his walking staff and shakes it at Francisco. “What did you do to the Shrimp Louie?!”
“W-what do you mean?”
“It hasn’t tasted this good since Marta died. She was the only one who did it right. You always use too much mayo and not enough lemon zest.”
Francisco lowers the knife, visibly relieved. “Heh. Must’ve just gotten lucky.”
Dirk’s not buying it. He thrusts his stick at Rae, who watches the stand-off from her post at the sink. An epiphany dawns on Dirk’s face.
“It was… yoooouuu,” he says slowly to the part-time dishwasher. He turns to Leo. “She did it. She brought it back to the way it was.”
Rae returns to her dishes. For a long moment, no one says or does anything. Finally, Francisco places his knife on the counter and walks over to Rae. He gently spins her around to face the others – a united front.
Leo looks confused. “Rae? Are you… cooking?”
Francisco slings an avuncular arm over her shoulder. Rae gazes at the floor, toying with her apron strings, embarrassed by all the fuss.
“I needed help,” Francisco maintains. “We never replaced your mother, y’know. I kept telling you” – he looks at Franny – “me and Franny, we can’t do everything. I was overwhelmed!”
Leo, ignoring his cook’s protestations, says to Rae, “You’re not even earning anything close to cook’s wages…”
“It’s okay.” She looks at Francisco. “I wanted to prove myself first.”
“Last few weeks, I’ve had more customers than usual complimenting my dishes,” Francisco attests. “But it’s been all her.”
“Not so sure I’d want to admit to something like that…” quips Dirk to no one in particular.
“You should try her desserts,” Francisco raves. “Word is out among the guests. We can barely keep up with the to-go orders.”
Leo scans the kitchen’s takeout counter. His eyes feast on an array of culinary treats that have heretofore never passed through these kitchen doors – blueberry muffins, peanut-butter cookies, lemon squares and sweet potato pie.
“Where’d you learn to make all this?” asks Leo.
“Val Verde Residential,” Rae says.
“What is that, like, a group home?”
“Yes, sir. I learned to cook for sixty-five kids. Ran the whole kitchen by the time I left.”
“Why’d you leave?”
Rae shrugs. “Turned eighteen. I had no choice.”
Leo bobs his head, lost in thought. “If we hire you as a full-time cook, you’d practically be living in the kitchen. But understand” – he winces in embarrassment – “living at the hotel… that would be problematic.”
Francisco gives Rae a squeeze. “She’s not looking to move in. She’s got a place at Nickerson Gardens.”
Rae offers Leo a tight-lipped smile. Leo forces one back, still trying to process it all. Once again, Dirk breaks the silence.
“Well, hell… someone hire this young lady, because if you don’t, I’ll make her my personal chef.”


About the Author:

Paul Haddad is a Los Angeles Times Bestselling Author and multiple-Emmy nominated television writer/producer. Paradise Palms: Red Menace Mob, his third novel, was inspired by dark family secrets that coincided with his obsession with old Hollywood. Also the author of several nonfiction books about L.A., he can found at www.paulhaddadbooks.com and on Instagram and Twitter: @la_dorkout

To request a copy of Paradise Palms to review or an interview with Paul Haddad, please contact Kelsey Butts at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or (805) 807-9027.

 

B. H. James & Elizabeth James Announce the Release of Their New Book ‘A Sea of Troubles: Pairing Literary and Informational Texts to Address Social Inequality’

B. H. James and Elizabeth James are public high school teachers in Stockton, CA. Their second book, “A Sea of Troubles” has just been released, published by Rowman and Littlefield Publishing. This book focuses on strategies schools can use to discuss the “sea of (societal) troubles” students are currently dealing with: from abuses of power, to systemic racism, to surviving school shootings, the book aims to honor issues students are dealing with daily.

Description:

A Sea of Troubles: Pairing Literary and Informational Texts to Address Social Inequality has been designed for classroom teachers struggling to address the overwhelming issues facing our world today.

Written for educators at the middle-school, high-school, and college levels, A Sea of Troubles pairs iconic, often-taught works of literature (Shakespeare, Animal Farm, Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird) with nonfiction works to address social, racial, and gender inequities. As high school English teachers themselves, Elizabeth James and B. H. James, have included concrete activities, assignments, and discussions ready for the classroom.

By embracing the Common Core’s emphasis on the inclusion of more nonfiction, the authors have demonstrated how to incorporate meaningful informational texts into their favorite units of literature. A Sea of Troubles shows teachers how literature and informational texts can work together, to enhance each other, and, by extension, enhance student’s abilities to critically think and respond to the sea of troubles that pervades society.

 

A Sea of Troubles

 


Praise:

“Are you keen to explore contemporary issues with students but more than a little bored with the titles in your curriculum? Sea of Troubles offers a model for re-envisioning how traditional texts are taught. Elizabeth and B.H. James describe instructional moves designed to demonstrate how literature “reflects the world and the world is reflected in fiction.” Whether you teach online or in person, their lessons integrating informational readings with literary works are sure to enliven classroom conversations.” – Carol Jago, past president, National Council of Teachers of English; author, “The Book in Question: Why and How Reading Is in Crisis”

“Elizabeth and B.H. James have written an elegant, sophisticated, and eminently useable text that English teachers will find energizing to read, even if they don’t teach the texts under consideration. Not only do the pair offer us new ways to both think about some of the most commonly-taught texts (Merchant, Raisin, Mockingbird) and teach these texts in conversation with nonfiction, but they do so in a way that is respectful and deeply optimistic about the possibility that English teachers might use literature to arm students with the skills to meet the sea of troubles that is our world and write the new book that we all need.” – Audrey Fisch and Susan Chenelle, authors of the “Using Informational Texts” series

“This book is designed to begin a very needed conversation in our classrooms today about social, racial, and gender inequities, done in the hope to help heal our nation of its acquiescence toward injustices that surround us today, guiding teachers to help students articulate and connect their own lived experiences to find meaning and relevance in the textbooks on the shelf. As we hope students forge their own ‘brave new world,’ the lessons in this book will activate the innate student and teenage desire to question and challenge the world around them, to state what goes unsaid about power and control in their own lives, to see the function of literature as more than an academic exercise, but as a call to embrace the full humanity of every human being.” – Natalia Trevino, author of VirginX and Lavando La Dirty Laundry

“Always student-centered, Elizabeth and B.H. James marry their cutting-edge call to pair literary and informational texts with concrete activities and assignments that are ready for the classroom. Activating old texts canonized in Common Core Standards for of-our-moment conversations, they show othering—where one gender, race, religion, or identity is stigmatized—to be a central, troubling feature of both literature and life. That agenda-setting insight opens doors for students to learn of bigotry today via Shakespeare, redlining in Chicago via A Raisin in the Sun, authoritarianism in 2020 via 1984, and structural sexism via The Handmaid’s Tale.” – Jeffrey R. Wilson, author of Shakespeare and Trump


Excerpt:

The Way Forward: Final Words on Our “Sea of Troubles”

Romeo and Juliet and To Kill a Mockingbird: two books that demonstrate the tragedy of growing up in a world that is not as it should be. A world in which the adults have failed to create a world, for their children, that is safe and that is just.

But, two books in which the children, initiated into that world, move it forward.

On the morning of February 14, 2018—for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL—it was just Valentine’s Day. By the end of the day, for those who survived, it was a new world. A world in which the adults had failed to keep them safe.

And for several of those surviving students, it was a coming-of-age, and a call to action. They organized. They marched. They changed minds. They changed laws. They are still going, moving their new world forward.

Just over two months later, the Parkland students—specifically Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, and Alex Wind—were featured on the cover of Time Magazine as part of the 2018 Time 100, with an accompanying essay by former President Barack Obama.

President Obama said the following:

America’s response to mass shootings has long followed a predictable pattern. We mourn. Offer thoughts and prayers. Speculate about the motives. And then—even as no developed country endures a homicide rate like ours, a difference explained largely by pervasive accessibility to guns; even as the majority of gun owners support commonsense reforms—the political debate spirals into acrimony and paralysis.

This time, something different is happening. This time, our children are calling us to account.

The Parkland, Fla., students don’t have the kind of lobbyists or big budgets for attack ads that their opponents do. Most of them can’t even vote yet.

But they have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom.

The power to insist that America can be better.

Seared by memories of seeing their friends murdered at a place they believed to be safe, these young leaders don’t intimidate easily. They see the NRA and its allies—whether mealymouthed politicians or mendacious commentators peddling conspiracy theories—as mere shills for those who make money selling weapons of war to whoever can pay. They’re as comfortable speaking truth to power as they are dismissive of platitudes and punditry. And they live to mobilize their peers.

Already, they’ve had some success persuading statehouses and some of the biggest gun retailers to change. Now it gets harder. A Republican Congress remains unmoved. NRA scare tactics still sway much of the country. Progress will be slow and frustrating.

But by bearing witness to carnage, by asking tough questions and demanding real answers, the Parkland students are shaking us out of our complacency. The NRA’s favored candidates are starting to fear they might lose. Law-abiding gun owners are starting to speak out. As these young leaders make common cause with African Americans and Latinos—the disproportionate victims of gun violence—and reach voting age, the possibilities of meaningful change will steadily grow.

Our history is defined by the youthful push to make America more just, more compassionate, more equal under the law. This generation—of Parkland, of Dreamers, of Black Lives Matter—embraces that duty. If they make their elders uncomfortable, that’s how it should be. Our kids now show us what we’ve told them America is all about, even if we haven’t always believed it ourselves: that our future isn’t written for us, but by us.

It’s worth repeating: “Our history is defined by the youthful push to make America more just, more compassionate, more equal under the law.”

Romeo and Juliet, through their deaths, ended the feud between their parents. Their tragedy healed the rift that had caused so much violence.

Tom Robinson was dead. Atticus wanted to appeal, but Tom was shot seventeen times in the back, desperately trying to escape a world that he knew would offer him no justice.

But after her brother had been already hardened by the fact of that injustice, Jean Louise Finch looked at the novel’s other Other—deemed “Boo” Radley by the society that had decided he was a monster—and called him by his name: Arthur.

And in the novel’s final image, she stands on the Other’s porch and sees the world—her world—through his eyes.

If Boo Radley is a metaphor for the dehumanizing effects of Otherness, it takes Scout to move it forward.

It is our children who will guide us through the Sea of Troubles. And we have the honor and the duty, as teachers, of preparing them to do so. That is the true work of an educator.

In order to dismantle historically ingrained patterns and systems of oppression and inequality, our students must recognize them.

So the only way to, in good conscience, allow students to meet the Sea of Troubles that they will inevitably inherit, is to show them—to arm them against those systems and those patterns. Perhaps then, they’ll have the chance to do better than we’ve ever done…and write the new book.


About the Authors:

B. H. (or Bill) and Liz James met in 2008 when they were both young teachers in the English department at Franklin High School in Stockton. They fell in love and married in 2011, and published their first book together, “Method to the Madness: A Common Core Guide to Creating Critical Thinkers through the Study of Literature” in 2016. That book focused on making sure the shift to Common Core was not a shift away from rigor or high expectations in the classroom. Since 2016, Bill and Liz have worked with school districts all over California, bringing strategies they use in their socio-economically diverse Title 1 classroom in Stockton to teachers all over the state.

Their philosophy is simple: everyone craves and responds to great storytelling. Therefore, they insist on keeping challenging, difficult, often college-level material in their classroom–every classroom, despite age, so that students can truly understand literature.

In the midst of 2020, their new book, “A Sea of Troubles” was born. When they found themselves overwhelmed by not just the amount of pertinent news all around them, but the anxiety and uncertainty that accompanied such a daily deluge of (often troubling) information, they knew their students were dealing with it, too.

This book aims to take real-life issues of injustice and model how to discuss these historic patterns in a classroom. The idea is simple: injustice is both very personal and very universal. Therefore, incorporating applicable informational texts within a unit of study provides both a personal narrative of the human cost of injustice, as well as a way to look at one character’s story as part of a larger historical narrative that is still playing out in students’ lives today.

So, for instance, a student studying “A Raisin in the Sun” can study it as great literature, and learn about characterization and climax and syntax. But with the James’ approach, that unit of literature will also include the supreme court case “Hansberry v. Lee” and red-lining maps of their own neighborhoods so that they also understand how a prejudiced housing system resulted in a lack of investment in the neighborhoods that they may still live in today.

The Jameses used books and plays already in most classrooms (like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “1984”) and reimagined how education can pivot toward a 21st century study of how these stories are reflections of inequalities and abuses of power that, despite time and place, keep happening.


A Sea of Troubles is available on Amazon. To learn more, go to https://teachinglit.org

For more information, to request a copy of A Sea of Troubles to review or an interview with the authors, please contact Kelsey Butts at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or (805) 807-9027.