Review 1301: The Paragon Hotel

Cover for The Paragon HotelAlice “Nobody” James is on the run from the Mafia with two bullets in her at the beginning of The Paragon Hotel. She is obviously in distress when her train arrives in Portland, Oregon, so Max, the African-American railway porter, takes her to the Paragon Hotel. The hotel is the only one in Portland for respectable Negroes in the 1920’s, when this novel is set. In fact, it is illegal for them to even live or work in Portland.

Alice is grateful for the help, and soon after recovering gets to know some of the residents and employees of the hotel. In particular, she is drawn to Blossom Fontaine, a chanteuse who reminds her of a friend she had in New York. When Alice finds that the occupants of the hotel are worried about the Ku Klux Klan, newly arrived in Portland, she decides to help them with her skills in investigation—for she was a spy for Mr. Salvatici, a man known as the Spider, back in Little Italy.

As Alice and her new friends prepare to battle bigotry, a little boy disappears. The novel follows the search for the boy while flashing back to explain how Alice ended up being wounded by her own friend, Nicolo Benemati.

link to NetgalleyI have been a fan of Lyndsay Faye for a long time, but I did not find this novel as compelling as her others. I wasn’t interested at all in the Mafia story. I was more interested in the Portland story, but somehow the characters didn’t ring true to me, particularly Alice herself. Faye seems to have written this novel to explore Portland’s long racist history, which I found interesting, but it gets off track onto other issues.

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4 thoughts on “Review 1301: The Paragon Hotel

  1. Helen January 10, 2019 / 2:38 pm

    I loved the Timothy Wilde series and thought Jane Steele was good too, but this book doesn’t sound very appealing to me. I might still try it, though.

    • whatmeread January 10, 2019 / 2:42 pm

      I loved the Wilde series, too, and was sorry to see it end. I also liked Jane Steele. Maybe you’ll like this one better than I do.

  2. Davida Chazan January 11, 2019 / 6:23 am

    Ah… too bad, because this sounded really good, and the cover is very appealing! I don’t know this author but if there’s a real “wow” one of hers out there, do let me know what I should look for. Thanks!

    • whatmeread January 11, 2019 / 11:57 am

      The Timothy Wilde series set in 1850’s New York is very good, and for something completely different, Jane Steele.

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