Okay, one more post about New Orleans, then I’ll hold off until next year.
I can’t help loving that city, and it comes to my mind every time I read about BP’s destruction of the Gulf of Mexico. But I try not to do that too often. It makes me want to quit my job and spend the rest of my life trying to make those fuckers pay for what they’ve done. But that wouldn’t leave much time to read wonderful books set in New Orleans, like Greg Herren’s latest Scotty Bradley mystery, Vieux Carre Voodoo.
Herren, a longtime denizen of New Orleans, knows his stuff—and after five Chanse MacLeod and three Scotty Bradley mysteries as well as his numerous editing projects, he ought to. Not that familiarity is breeding contempt. He seems to be getting better with each book.
Here, Bradley and his partner Frank as well as their old “friend” Colin leave a trail of corpses in their wake as they investigate the disappearance of a jewel used as the eye of a religious icon, but it really doesn’t matter what the MacGuffin is. What matters is the breakneck pace, the interesting characterizations, the solidly crafted plot and the delicious local flavor that it all simmers in like a slow-cooked gumbo.
Herren’s work is drenched in the essence of the Big Easy, the city’s geography even playing a large part in the solution of a riddle at whose end lies the aforementioned Eye of Kali. But unlike the city, it is not languid. Herren hits the ground running and only lets up for two extremely interesting dream sequences, the latter of which is truly chilling. Is this a breezy beach read? Maybe, but it has far more substance than many. You can spend a few sunny, sandy afternoons with this resting on your chest and still feel as if you’ve read a book.
But even if you’re not at the beach, Herren’s work makes great backyard or rooftop reading, and this one is a terrific place to start. Get them all and make a summer of it. Maybe his next one will be about Kali’s revenge on the BP execs.
Oooo, now there’s a story.
Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler