Ill Will – Jean Redmann (Bold Strokes Books)

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Buy it now direct from Bold Strokes Books

If I hadn’t seen Jean Redmann and Greg Herren standing side
by side, I’d swear they were the same person. They both live in New Orleans,
they’re both gay, and they both write superb mysteries for Bold Strokes Books.
Both Herren’s Scotty Bradley and Chanse MacLeod books are solidly plotted and
extremely satisfying, totally cut from the same cloth as Jean Redmann’s Micky
Knight series. Her latest, Ill Will, is as sure-footed and self-assured
as can be.

New Orleans detective Micky Knight, recovering from Katrina
along with the rest of the NOLA population, gets hit with the news her partner
Cordelia is suffering from lymphoma—which fits in thematically with her latest
case, herbal supplements which may or may not kill their recipients. Oh, and
there’s some insurance fraud. And a menacing meth addict. How does Knight cope
with Cordelia’s illness and manage to work on her cases? And find a decent
grocery store after the storm?

In Ill Will, Redmann does a great job of recreating
what it must have been like living and working in New Orleans post-Katrina. The
local color she (and Herren) bring to their mysteries is not only evocative,
but helps the city function as a character on its own—and NOLA is quite the
unpredictable queen.

But a terrific sense of place would be empty indeed if
Redmann didn’t populate it with such winning characters. Knight is tough on the
bad guys and vulnerable with Cordelia, and Cordelia is a delight. A doctor
coping with her new role as patient, she is by turns professional and perplexed
at being on the other side of the examining table. Cordelia was unfaithful to
Knight in a previous installment, and Redmann makes the most of that lapse’s
dramatic potential as they both cope with Cordelia’s illness while patching up
their relationship.

The mystery is also engaging, with Knight posing undercover
as a pink-garbed suburban hausfrau out to make some extra money peddling
Nature’s Beautiful Gift while she seeks another, more powerful drug called The
Cure from her distributor. Redmann’s wry sense of humor gives Knight some
marvelous lines here, providing welcome comic relief. In fact, that sense of
humor pokes through in the most unexpected places, lending a chuckle to the
drama.

I must admit this is the first Micky Knight book I’ve read,
so I’m late to the party. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it as a standalone and
would go back and read the whole series if I didn’t have a blog to review for
as well as my own writing to do. I’ll just have to wait for the next one, but
that shouldn’t stop you from beginning at the top and working your way down.

I guarantee you’ll enjoy the journey.   

Review by Jerry Wheeler 

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