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Dead Man in Paradise [Paperback]

J MacKinnon

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2005

At nightfall on June 22, 1965, a soldier walked in from the outskirts of a small town in the Dominican Republic and reported that he had just shot and killed two policemen and an outspoken Canadian Catholic priest. It was the opening scene in a mystery that, forty years later, compels J.B. MacKinnon, a nephew of the murdered missionary, to investigate what many believe was a carefully plotted assassination.

MacKinnon's search takes him to corners of the country that are far from the paradise seen by millions of tourist visitors. He meets with former revolutionaries, shadowy generals who live in hiding and the struggling Dominicans for whom the dead priest is a martyr, perhaps even a saint.

Dead Man in Paradise is a true story with the suspense of a classic mystery novel, the immediacy of reportage and the insight of a travelogue. More than any of these, it is a personal examination of one of the gravest challenges of our times: finding a balance between our longing to hold the guilty to account for their crimes and the deep human need to forgive.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre; 1st Edition edition (Sept. 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1553651383
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553651383
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #367,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"This is a remarkable blend of regret, reflection and ambiguity whose complexity is reminiscent of a Shakespearean character." (Gavin Miller Catholic Register 2006-01-29)

"As described by Charles Taylor Prize jury, Laurier LaPierre, W.H. New and Jan Walter: 'Part-true-life detective story... and part travelogue through a landscape in political turmoil, Dead Man in Paradise describes an engrossing quest in which the riddles of guilt and innocence, memory and reconciliation, what is revealed and what is withheld lead to an unexpected but thoroughly satisfying conclusion.'" (Jeanine Soodeen Victoria News 2006-03-03)

"It's rare that a work of historical non-fiction grabs a reader from page one, but Dead Man in Paradise does exactly that, holding the reader captive as author J.B. MacKinnon embarks on a remarkable journey to investigate a controversial death in the family." (Quill & Quire 2005-10-01)

"Dead Man in Paradise is as much a post-Cold War take on Latin America as it is a personal journey. Best read with a cold beer and a deep breath." (Toro Magazine 2005-10-01)

"The book is masterful. MacKinnon has the craftsmanship for the challenge. He uses flashback well creates arresting images [and] has enough travel experience to take the bizarre in stride." (Globe & Mail 2005-10-22)

"Precise, sensuous, personal documentary..." (Focus Magazine 2005-12-01)

"Dead Man in Paradise...works as travelogue, thriller, and much-needed antidote to the ways in which history is often buried and forgotten." (Quill & Quire 2005-12-19)

"Dead Man in Paradise is an ambitious work...It aims to go farther than what could be expected of a family memoir, a travel diary or a political history." (Toronto Star 2006-01-22)

"A combination of exceptional English, stylistic elegance, deep thought and subtle perception." (Macleans 2006-02-27)

"There's an amazing arc in Dead Man...It goes from a fog at the beginning, which is MacKinnon's state of mind, to the process of discovery...to reaching a point where he finds that he can go too far...The whole book is a study in growth, of coming to understand the passion of faith and certainty that existed in the mind of his uncle, and the uncertainty which surrounds the information he is getting." (Globe & Mail 2006-02-28)

"One of the most compelling aspects of the book is MacKinnon's nuanced and vivid depiction of contemporary Dominican life." (Literary Review of Canada 2006-04-01)

About the Author

J.B. MacKinnon is a celebrated independent journalist and a contributing editor to the magazines Adbusters, Explore and Vancouver. A two-time winner of the National Magazine Foundation Gold Award for travel writing, he splits his time between Vancouver and a cabin in northern British Columbia. MacKinnon's latest book is The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dead Man in Paradise is one of the best books I have ever read in my life Dec 5 2005
By Rubey - Published on Amazon.com
This book is incredible. MacKinnon follows family history in this incredible piece of literary nonfiction. His uncle was a Catholic priest, murdered by police officers in the Dominican Republic in the 60s. The police were immediately shot by an army officer. Forty years later he tries to unravel what actually happened.

The thing that blew me away most was that I could feel him struggle with a foreign language in a different country. I have lived overseas as well, and his writing took me right back to the feeling of pressure inside my head, as I tried to understand. As the book progresses, the pressure diminishes. Truly spectacular writing.

I tried to take it slow, to savour the book, but I finally gave up and tore through it in a day and a half. I am going to reread it this winter.
5.0 out of 5 stars Ciudad Trujillo April 25 2008
By Rene Figueroa - Published on Amazon.com
I was raised in Santo domingo and was 11 years old at the time of the revolution. We were also some of those "evacuated" by the U.S. Navy from the hotel. We lived at Avenida Independencia, esquina Wenceslao Alvarez avenue he speaks of in page #207 in the paperback book. We were also there when Trujillo was killed and we spent the following school year in San juan while things settled down. Dad of course stayed with house and business. The names and memories all cascade through my mind. My dad was the Volkswagen and Studebaker dealer in Santo Domingo, and he had to sell the dreaded black VW Beetles the secret police drove, which for a good period of time cost him a lot of business with the locals for obvious reasons. Sadly that same 1965 revolution took my father's life later that year from the stress of remaining in the island to guard house and business, while his wife and four children were away in Puerto Rico. He was only 46 years old. The book is written very well, and do not let him fool you, his spanish had to be good as he described the island and people expertly. It was hard for me to read as you might imagine. After 5-10 pages I would have to stop and let all the memories pass. I was last there three years ago, and much has changed, from the incredibly horrible traffic to the tall sky scrapers that dot the Capital city. One thing has not changed however, and that is the pervasive poverty and same crooked governments who line their and their friends pockets as the country continues to suffer. I have always been asked what it was like to grow there, so I am ordering 4-5 additional copies to give as gifts to those so inclined to read it, I will also send a copy to my extended "family" in Santo Domingo. These are friends I grew up with, and to this day I call them the brothers and sisters that they are to us.

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