D.A. lays out case against serial killer

February 13, 2008 12:34:32 PM PST
"The Paradiso Files: Boston's Unknown Serial Killer" by Timothy Burke.

As a young assistant district attorney, Timothy Burke set out to solve a gruesome murder of a mother and her two young children and wound up uncovering a man he believes killed seven young women over a 15-year period.

When a sister of Marie Ianuzzi begged Burke to look into Ianuzzi's murder, Leonard Paridiso's name quickly surfaced. Paridiso, a sometime seafood salesman, had a history of brutalizing women, although only one assault conviction.

Burke details the investigation and efforts - unsuccessful - to positively link Paradiso to the other murders.

Unlike most true crime stories, Burke creates scenes and conversations in the book in which he had no part. Although the book is based on transcripts, newspaper accounts and other material, the fictionalized sections of the book make it seem like a crime novel.

Burke also writes in the third person, referring to himself as the DA, the prosecutor, the attorney.

In fact, he has nicknames for many of the people in the book - an undercover state cop is "Ponytail," three detectives are "The Three Amigos," the opposing lawyer is the "Schmoozer," Paradiso's girlfriend is "the bleached blond." It all wears thin after a while.

"The lawyer didn't respond. He knew Ponytail was probably right. There was too much at stake."

The book also takes some odd side tracks, introducing characters not necessary to the story and for no apparent reason pointing out people attending the trial.

The book would also benefit from trimming some of the details that tend to drag the story out and down.

Still, with the outcome known in advance, Burke manages to add some tension to the tale that makes an interesting, if not completely satisfying read.