By David Fulmer
Poisoned Pen Press - December 2001
ISBN: 1890208841 - HB
Historical Crime - 1907, New Orleans
for Sexual content

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde,
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In this novel of New Orleans, you can almost smell the bourbon and opium mixed with earthy scents of river mud and street ordure, and hear the searing notes that heralded the arrival of jazz. It is all here in this book - the fancy whorehouses of Storyville, seedy cribs and tenements, jazz, crooked politics, voodoo and the unique mixture of races, creeds, and classes that was New Orleans at that time. Private detective Valentin St Cyr is stalking a killer whose targets are whores and whose trademark is a black rose. Trouble is, the prime suspect is his best friend Buddy "King" Bolden, the inventor of jazz, who seems to be losing his mind. Everything points to Buddy and an arrest needs to be made but St Cyr is convinced that the answer lies elsewhere. Meanwhile the body count is steadily mounting, and even St Cyr's girlfriend is at risk.

Fulmer's depiction of 1907 New Orleans is spot on, but the plot meanders more than a little. Although the reader is immersed in a powerful word stew that conjures up the time and place perfectly, there is a lack of momentum and not a lot of actual detecting going on. This is a shame, as with a faster pace and more suspenseful plotting, this would have been a wonderful book. For the descriptions and research alone, however, it is well worth reading.

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