Wesley Farrell Mystery
By Robert Skinner
Poisoned Pen Press – July 2000
ISBN: 1890208337 – Hardcover

Mystery / History - African American / Jazz age

Reviewed by: Brenda Weeaks, MyShelf.Com
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Robert Skinner has penned another Wesley Farrell mystery for his readers. Hardboiled mysteries are not my cuppa, but historical mysteries are, and since I missed out on reviewing his last title Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting, I decided to grab this one up. Even though the storyline is a little stronger than I anticipated, I’m glad I did.

At the beginning, Mr. Skinner gives us a quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables, 1851: “God will give him blood to drink” -- and so goes the story. Wes Farrell’s world is in the south; New Orleans to be exact. The former rumrunner now runs a nightclub. His sweetheart Savanna Beaulieu, back from a sabbatical, owns one in the French Quarter, but she only has a small part in this mystery. The prologue takes us to September 23, 1934, when Louis Bras and his Hot Six Combo were raising the roof at the Honey Pot. Wes thinks he’s minding his own business until a Coast Guard Lt. Commander George Schofield shows up looking for an anonymous informant. The night leads to a deadly conclusion, one that will come back to haunt Wes five years later. 1939: A T-agent (Treasury agent) by the same name of Schofield shows up asking questions about George Schofield in an attempt to get some answers to that night in ‘34. The T-agent doesn’t know Wes was with his brother that night, so Wes is in the clear, except that he wants answers of his own. At the same time, an undercover cop is killed and Chief of Detectives Frank Casey, Detective Sam Andres and Negro Squad Detectives Merlin Gautier and Sergeant Israel Daggett take to the streets looking for the killer or killers.

In Blood to Drink, the reader will know who the killers are. The mystery to solve is: whom is the bone chilling, threatening voice that gives the orders. Wes Farrell mysteries are highly seasoned, suspenseful reads to begin with, but with bad guys like Mercer and Zottie it becomes an even more demanding read. The author, Robert Skinner, is talented in his ability to bring the south, during the thirties, to life. With a stroke of his pen, he creates an intoxicating atmosphere of inestimable, dynamic characters so rich in dialect and life that they ascend from his inscribed print. It isn’t just a mystery; it’s one of the most provocative paintings of the south I have read in a while.

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