Sunday, January 31, 2016

Life Ain't Easy in the Big Easy

For those of you who don't know - I love New Orleans. Shocker, I know.

Due to recent events in my life (new boyfriend, more cons and events, extra vacation time), my time in New Orleans has grown quite a bit as of late. Years ago, the only time I would ever visit would be for Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest. Now, it's whenever I feel like it. The food, the people, the culture(s), the history, the magick, all of it. I just love that city.

And yet, although I love the city, I also know that it has a dark side as well. The crime, the murders, the . . . whatever else you can imagine. I have spent many a time talking with a good friend of mine about the darker side of the city and with every story she tells me, I only want to know more. Such was the case when I finally sat down to read The Bourbon Street Ripper - Sins of the Father by author and friend Leo King. Although it has been a while since I read a mystery (the last one regarding a certain man named Holmes), this book did not disappoint and even added extra biscuits to the already wonderful meal of Death and family secrets.

In 1972, Dr. Vincent Castille, part of New Orleans elite, was found to be The Bourbon Street Ripper, a serial killer that sent waves of panic and fear through the city. His granddaughter, Samantha, was a witness to one of his black deeds and it scarred her for most of her life. Now, in the year 1992, Samantha, also known as Sam of Spades, writes mysteries for the Time Picayune while barely existing as human. However, a new killer is on the loose in the French Quarter and it appears to be a copycat of the Bourbon Street Ripper. Sam's worst fears are brought into the light once more when Detective Rodger Bergeron and his partner Michael LeBlanc show up on her doorstep to ask her questions. Family secrets, long forgotten sins, and lies are only the beginning for Sam; who is trying to re-create the work of her "loving" grandfather?

I hate to be cliched, but this book grabbed me from page one, in which a voodoo ceremony in 1972 goes horribly wrong, and kept me glued to the story until the cliffhanger ending. Thankfully, books two and three are completed, so I know that a bulk order is in my future. King creates a New Orleans that most of us are familiar with and yet it feels like a strange new breed just ready to be explored and sampled. His characters truly capture the essence of what it means to live in New Orleans and southern Louisiana; even the character Ritchie, the best selling mystery author from Pittsburgh, seems to have sprinkles of the city all over him. When I sent a message to Leo telling him how much I loved the book, I also informed him that I had ideas about the identity of the murderer - of which I'm probably wrong!

I'll be returning to New Orleans in several weeks for another vacation; this time, one of my friends is looking into doing a tour of a haunted plantation with an overnight stay. Should be fun . . . .


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