When you read a good book it is a satisfying experience that non-readers can never experience. To read the words an author has pounded out on their typewriter, and there are still those who use the old relic, or more commonly these days, the computer, and the words are aligned correctly to give you a rush is like an orgasm simile. There are many such books, with many such words; they are as familiar as there are readers who seek them out. But when you find yourself within the pages of a book where the words are not only placed in the correct order, they are cemented there with an élan for mesmerizing those who have happily found themselves inside the writer’s mind and, as they read, understand that this one is special.
Such is David Hunt’s The Magician’s Tale. Hunt has woven a tale of sordid intrigue set among “The Gulch,” a part of San Francisco where chicken hawks scour the meat rack for new conquests. This is where Kay Farrow, a color blind photographer has chosen to expose to the world via her camera. The telling of this story moves with grace and aplomb in this underclass society and where Kay develops an unlikely friendship with Tim, one of the male hustlers. When Tim is murdered in a most gristly manner Kay goes on a quest to find his killer, camera in hand, to expose the horror to the world.
As she follows her camera’s eye Kay goes from the bottom of the social ladder to its pinnacle as she follows the malodorous odor to the crème de la crème of San Francisco culture. The manner in which Tim was slain had a familiar ring to an unsolved murder from years back. Her father, then a policeman, and others were persuaded to retire because of sloppy police work, allowing the killer to escape. Kay also unearths a link from Tim’s past, a purported “uncle,” and through him discovers that the slain street hustler had a twin, a female twin.
The ins and outs of The Magician’s Tale are told in such a way as to have the reader on the edge of that preverbal seat throughout the story. David Hunt, a master story teller, is much more, as The Magician’s Tale bears out. He goes places, and writes about places and people most of us only whisper about and he does it so expertly that the cringe factor is minimal, but very much there. But by the time you have finished The Magician’s Tale you will have been down in the Gulch with Kay, experiencing life unimaginable and following the trail high above it all on Russian Hill. You will stand next to the street people and their sordid life in most people opinion, including the love of a brother and a sister. You will find yourself, if not approving, in awe at the manner this author ties it all together in such a way that, if you are not careful, will bring an itinerant tear to your eyes.
The place is New Orleans and the event is Mardi Gras. The insanity of the carnival is at its peak as Rex rolls down St. Charles Avenue. On the prominent float of this most prominent parade is the exalted and very prominent new King of Carnival, one Chauncey St. Amant. Chauncey is stamped indelibly into the social register as upper class, albeit not afraid to come down from his lofty perch for worthwhile causes. On a balcony high above the street and the screaming crowd a costumed Dolly Parton fires one shot and ends the King of Rex’s life.
So begins New Orleans Mourning, by Julie Smith. Skip Langdon, rookie cop, but with connections to the upper-crust which reign over New Orleans twelve months out of the year, not just at carnival time, is taken off street beat and assigned to the case because of her connections with the family of St. Amant. The two other detectives assigned to the case are not at all that enamored by her and treats her almost contemptuously. Skip, realizing that this is a career-in-the-making case dives headlong into it, although with a few misgivings and old hurts which haunt her, arriving as old memories about her social-climbing parents.
A free-lance photographer was shooting a video of the parade and the crowd and accidentally captured the Dolly Parton look alike in the actual act of committing murder. But, of course the film comes up missing as Skip and the photographer ease into a “relationship.” As Skip questions members of the St Amant family she is not taken seriously at first, and then is hated for her persuasive investigation. She is not the perfect detective. She has ghost from her past that plague her and she tokes on marijuana to try and calm herself down from time to time, because the intensity of the investigation is overwhelming.
As she goes about her business she begins to uncover layer after layer of good old fashioned southern, aristocratic trash in high places. Skip digs beneath the façade of the upper class and beneath the glamour and adulation she finds more layers of lies, cover-ups and degeneracy. And, a book about the south would not be complete if race was not seen in a not too flattering way.
Who killed Chauncey St. Amant? And why? Skip finds plenty of possible suspects in the high-toned family’s skeletons and even finds herself pursuing a black prostitute suspect in the ghetto. As the story unfolds, pointing the finger this way, Skip sees other possibilities, and on and on in a confusing labyrinth of who can you trust. The final pages are exquisitely written and the reader can only read, open-mouthed, at the revelations and finally the identity of the murderer. I highly recommend New Orleans Mourning to anyone who loves a wild and woolly mystery. Thank you Pam for turning me onto to it.
In my 335 page thriller, “Bayou Blood,” another south Louisiana thriller, the serial killer called The Beast has escaped an underground imprisonment and is angry and bent on wrecking havoc with the two who put him there, ex-Detective Purvis Champagne and Race Benoit. This is the harrowing sequel to another thriller, “Rank Stranger.”
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Jerry Pat Bolton / Unholy Pursuit Now For Purchase / $15.95
I think we should only read books that wound and stab us.-Kafka
You remember those gripping tales mixing legal suspense and Southern charm that flowed from the pen of John Grisham during the last decade? Or the great Southern drawl of earthy tradition from William FauIkner in an earlier time? It seems we have among us a modern author of similar talents, a gentleman nurtured in the steamy culture of the moist land in that network of slow-moving southern Louisiana bayous a hundred miles southwest of New Orleans. This author is none other than Jerry Bolton.
Jerry’s adroit skills at weaving poetic wonder and short stories that play to the often flawed characters that one just knows have been an intimate part of his life, in part or in whole. Jerry has a throng of memorable literary bits and pieces and other novels to his credit.
In “Write To Murder,” Jerry spins a great yarn mixing two common household ingredients that are, by themselves not too alarming, and can even be inert. But when poured together through Jerry’s pen, they combine with a dangerous explosive force, like rubbing alcohol and peroxide. We are all familiar with one of these elements: a great yearning to write prose and poetry that is “outside the box” in its ability to penetrate the consciousness of its audience — literary derring-do that puts our wares on a shelf above those of others.
The other common element is found in abundance in that too-long list of flawed character traits of the human race. Greed, lust, avarice, cupidity, rapacity and covetousness, among others, meld into the scabs on the festering rash that Jerry meticulously picks at for fodder for this book. What results is a set of colorful portraitures that tangle in a race through a Shakespearean-plotted story-line to a climactic and dramatic finish.
What more could one want in a murder-mystery than Voodoo tainted Cajun swampland harboring such a volatile mixture? Not a lot, in my opinion. Jerry’s latest will keep you entertained at the beach this summer or curled up in your reading chair at home. You won’t even notice the blondes strutting by in the sand or the clock ticking toward midnight at home. This is a good book. Four stars! Congratulations Jerry!
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Cindy Landry and her husband were abducted and held in an isolated house for two days filled with torture and sexual assault. Cindy’s husband was murdered and she was left for dead. With the help of the murderer’s sister, who he also sexually abused, they exact revenge. The lackadaisical court system seems more inclined to bend over backward for the torturer and murderer of Cindy and her husband. But, in my 249 page novel, “God Sleeps Tonight” what goes around, comes around for Cindy and Imogene, a truly pitiful character have their day(s).
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My grandson asked his mother, “Why doesn’t granddad write something I can read?” He is eleven. So I wrote him a dragon story. What’s not to like about dragons? In “Josh’s Dragon,” a 247 page fantasy, I tried my best for him. He was eleven-years-old when I wrote the story and he designed the front cover, and the drawing of the dragons I include at the beginning of each chapter he also sketched. Proud? Of course I am.
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Misdemeanors & Felonies: A Memoir
There comes a time in some men’s lives that it is “fess up” time. That time for me is now. Candence, Patricia and Nick, my children, need to know a little about their father who was not there for them while they were growing up. This, sadly, is all I have to give them now. My chance at showering them with love and support and all that goes with being a father is long past due and sadly, sadly lacking. I can only give them my words. This 349 page book is for them. If no one else reads it, it does not matter, this book is for them. Oh, I hope others might want to delve into the sins of one man who was raised with 1950’s values and busted into the 1960’s and 70’s with a gusto for all the forbidden there was to savor, and there was much to savor.
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After the savage torture and death of her mother, whom she had guilt feeling about, mafia princess Kathy Albertini is drawn into a world of sexual excess and alcohol in an attempt to rid herself of her demons. She is also trying to distance herself from the “Family,” and it is difficult because her dad is the Godfather of the Dixie Mafia. When she has given up on love a new man in her life is giving her feeling she had never experienced before, plus he brings some shameful secrets of his own that surface violently and unexpectedly. Adding to the emotional upheaval, Kathy has a stalker. My Mother’s Revenge is a 335 page thriller set in New Orleans and the bayous which surround the city.
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It is eighty years after America’s second civil war, although some called it a race war. The war was won by a faction of a homegrown Muslim group and the story begins with a young female college student becoming concerned with the way the Anglo saxton’s, Mexicans and other non-Muslims are being treated.
“Margaret and David: A Love Story,” is a 285 page circumspect story which takes its presumption from history. It is a love story with political ramifications and social impact. After America’s second civil war, fanatical Muslims seized power. “Margaret and David: A Love Story” is the story of tragic interracial love which develops as a nation grows to understand that bigotry and suspicion are tools for oppression and hate no matter where it is found. This is a love story of hope and devotion in the face of hopelessness and despair; a story which blur the lines of our multi-racial society. “Margaret and David: A Love Story” is about forbidden passion, political upheaval, treachery and hate.
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