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by Julie Smith
Forge Books, August 2003
304 pages
ISBN: 0765305526

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

New Orleans detective Skip Langdon is forced to confront the master criminal of her nightmares Errol Jacomine once again. Jacomine had committed heinous acts and then disappeared nearly two years ago. His son Daniel had just been convicted of murder. His other son, known as the White Monk, will resurface in this book.

While searching for Jacomine, Skip also heads a task force to discover who has been stealing statues and monuments in New Orleansı incredible cemeteries. This task, however, turns on her and she must prove she is not tainted.

A talk show host, David Wright, has developed a Dallas cable channel show called Mr. Right where he interviews people who have been unjustly treated by the government and tries to help them out. But he has much wider and more frightening ambitions.

This book includes an array of unique and colorful characters who intrigue and amaze the reader. Each demonstrates a different facet of the story. The followers of Jacomine are still committed to him and worship his very comments. The wife and employees of ³Mr. Right² are convinced he is saving the world. The collection of people who live next to Skip (two gay men and two adopted children) add spice to the story as does Steve Steinman, Skipıs lover.

The story is exciting and the last few chapters have enough suspense for an amusement park ride. The main facts of the story are evident quite early and this is more of a suspense novel than a traditional mystery. The questions of whether Jacomine will finally kill or tarnish Skipıs character and how many others he will feel the need to kill drive the story.

I found myself a little confused during the first hundred pages. I think perhaps this is a series that one should not begin in the middle, but should read in order. It was assumed that I knew who many of the characters were and how they were related, but I was a while trying to figure out some of this information.

From this book alone, I do not feel that Jacomine makes a truly believable villain. He seems more childish than evil and throws temper tantrums rather than takes revolting actions. His hold over his followers is rather frightening and the capriciousness of his actions make the reader a bit nervous. But the pure evil of, say, a Hannibal Lector just is not present in the book and it is hard to understand why a seasoned New Orleans cop should be so afraid.

The other facet in which I was disappointed was the portrayal of New Orleans. Outside of the descriptions of the cemeteries, I did not have the kind of feeling for the city that I have gotten in other Julie Smith books. Perhaps the fault lies within the reader, but I missed the smells and sounds of New Orleans.

This is certainly a must for fans of Skip Langdon, but hardly the best in the series.


Reviewed by Sally A. Fellows, August 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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