St. Louis in the 1890s and Sergeant Mac O’Hara has retired
from the police department, married his sweetheart and settled
into a new home on the banks of the Mississippi River. His
future looks happy and uncomplicated. And then an old partner
knocks on his door.
It seems that the wife of a local doctor had gone missing
and has now turned up dead, a murder victim. Mac’s old
partner, Wallace, has come by to ask for help solving the
case. The situation is puzzling because of the way the murder
victim is dressed and when the investigation turns up more
bodies dressed similarly, the whole thing takes on a ritualistic
The trail leads Mac through the remnants of the old underground
railroad with all of its secret passageways and hidden tunnels
and comes to a dead end at a Satanic-like temple ruled by
a mysterious VooDoo priestess.
The cops interview some reluctant railroad hobos who were
in a place where they may have witnessed the murder but then
they disappear as well only to turn up dead. Meanwhile O’Hara’s
wife is kidnapped by the cult.
In spite of all the strange suspects, the cops can't ignore
the fact that the recently widowed doctor doesn’t seem
to show the proper amount of grief and looks to be just a
little too friendly with his housekeeper. The plot keeps getting
deeper as new suspects enter the scene and others appear to
be resurrected from the dead.
This is P. J. Dunn’s debut novel and it has all of the
pitfalls and sins of an entry level book. The character development
could be stronger and the plot could be easier to follow.
But in spite of its faults, the premise is very intriguing
and the overall story is deceptively entertaining.
Estleman, but it’s a fun book.