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By J.B. MacKinnon

“…this intriguing mystery unfolds into a haunting portrait of a rich land marked by grotesque squalor, brutal inequality and an abiding thirst for social justice.”
Publishers Weekly

“The poetry of tragedy and an absurd humor about a crime long past come together to reveal a fascinating history. The author’s conclusions are speculative at best. . . but his journey towards some kind of truth is a moving one. MacKinnon is a fine storyteller and his crisp, imaginative writing is well-suited to this somewhat unorthodox detective story enmeshed in the secret history of the country’s volatile politics.”


MacKinnon_Dead Man in Paradise

Dead Man in Paradise is the author’s search for the truth about his uncle’s murder in the Dominican Republic: in equal parts classic mystery, compelling personal revelation, accomplished investigative journalism, and unforgettable travelogue. MacKinnon’s search takes him to corners of the country that are far from the paradise seen by millions of tourist visitors. An outspoken Catholic priest in the Dominican Republic in the late 1970s, MacKinnon’s uncle became, after his death, something of a martyr for the Dominicans struggling under Trujillo’s regime. He meets with former revolutionaries, shadowy generals who live in hiding and struggling Dominicans.

“The shelf of books by journalists who venture to a remote or hostile place and try to solve a crime or disappearance has swelled since the success of Jon Krakauer’s best sellers. Mr. MacKinnon’s journey fits squarely within the genre. But the island’s unusual history, with Arab immigrants adding an intriguing spice to the usual grim legacy of Indian eradication, slavery and military coups, gives his tale a distinct flavor. . . Riding into destitute villages in aging buses or on the backs of motorbikes, the author never pretends to be more than a respectful outsider, dependent for his imperfect knowledge on the generosity of friends and strangers. . . .[Dead Man in Paradise is] a smart and unpretentious nonfiction thriller about the still largely unknown Dominican Republic.”
The New York Times

“An adventure growing out of a mystery, a glorious trip for armchair travelers and students of Caribbean politics alike.”

“Beguiling . . . vividly written and exquisitely structured . . . MacKinnon has produced a worldly-wise meditation on truth and reconciliation, or the lack of it, which reaches inside the troubled soul of this Caribbean island.”
Sunday Times

“Gripping, richly layered and in its ceaseless twists and turns a very apt metaphor for the Dominican Republic itself.”
Sunday Telegraph

“A superb work of reportage.”
The Independent

“Impressive… The book contains a remarkable layering of voices, points of view and pure intrigue: it’s equal parts Ian Rankin, Jan Morris and Joan Didion. …Dead Man in Paradise is a virtuoso performance.”

“Equal parts mystery, political thriller and travelogue, Dead Man in Paradise is a gripping effort guaranteed to keep even the most jaded reader enthralled.”
Monday Magazine

“J.B. MacKinnon has written an astonishing book about faith, fear and revolution. In so doing, he has worked a miracle of his own: he has brought the dead back to life in the form of a bona fide page-turner. MacKinnon’s exhaustive and courageous search for his uncle’s killers immerses us in the beauty, terror and soul of a fascinating and volatile island nation – not only the Dominican Republic then, but also now.”
-John Vaillant, author of The Golden Spruce

“[Dead Man in Paradise is] a bit like a John le Carré spy thriller and a bit like a Raymond Chandler detective novel, but it’s also a stirring memoir, and a testament to the enduring virtues of literary journalism, besides.”
The Georgia Straight

“J.B. MacKinnon has transcended three genres in this remarkable book. Poignant, thrilling and very well written indeed, it is a wholly unique achievement and instantly places this young writer among the best talents in the country. I was deeply impressed.”
-Paul William Roberts, author of A War Against Truth: Behind the Lines in the Invasion of Iraq

“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… [It] works as travelogue, thriller, and much-need antidote to the ways in which history is often buried and forgotten.”
Quill & Quire (starred review)


Douglas & McIntyre, Canada, Fall 2005

Faber and Faber, UK, Fall 2006

The New Press, US, Spring 2007


Winner of the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction

Nominated for the Pearson Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize

A Globe and Mail Best Book of 2005

A Quill & Quire Best Books of 2005

A Book Sense Pick, November 2007