Warner, 2003 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
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Reviewed by Martina Bexte
in, sizzle and sex, speakeasies and sultry days and nights; bootleggers, voodoo, illicit family secrets and murder - 1927 New Orleans is a city that teems with every available vice and then some. It's a hot sweltering August night when homicide detective Daman Rourke is called to a crumbling slave shack that's the scene of an especially brutal murder. He's aware that the victim's wife, film star Remy Lelourie (also Rourke's former lover and ongoing obsession) is capable of murdering her husband, Charles St. Claire -- Rourke had, after all, seen her kill a man before. The fact that she has St. Claire's blood all over her is evidence enough for most concerned. When Remy swears she didn't kill her husband, Rourke makes it his mission to find out who had good reason to see the high profile lawyer dead. A client? His current lover, Lucille? Or the mob?
ourke's investigations lead him to the city's most successful racketeer, Casey Maguire - Rourke and Maguire were former boyhood friend, turned bitter enemies. Rourke has sworn to destroy Maguire and every one of his illegal businesses. That promise is soon written in blood after a hit on Rourke goes bad and ends up killing another childhood friend and sometime lover, Bridey O'Mara. A second attempt traumatises his young daughter Katie. Now Rourke's investigation turns relentless and he unearths ugly truths that not only solve the mystery of Charles St. Claire's murder, but also unveil secrets about his own family's past, secrets that slice deep into Rourke's already bleeding soul.
enelope Williamson has shown readers her sure hand at crafting complex story lines with books like
The Passions of Emma
, and the epic western saga,
Heart of the West
. She moves into the 20th century and gives readers, in
, a sprawling, atmospheric and intricate story with a great cast of equally complex characters, particularly the brooding Daman (Day) Rourke and his twin obsessions: upholding the law and Remy Lelourie. Williamson's rich writing evokes a vivid picture of 1927 New Orleans, caught in the dark and oppressive grip of steamy summer. The city becomes a character herself, adding that much more flavour to a story that will leave you guessing until the end.
is a riveting debut to what will surely become a popular new mystery series (since continued in
Wages of Sin
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