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by Ed Kovacs
Minotaur Books, December 2011
307 pages
ISBN: 0312581815

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In a city ravaged by corruption and Hurricane Katrina, a murder occurs shortly before the storm hits. Called out to investigate is New Orleans Police Officer Cliff St. James. It's his last day in the force, but the murder victim is a friend of his, although the police can't be sure because the face has been blown off the murder victim with a high-powered weapon. Few police are out due to the impending hurricane, and when St. James arrives, another officer is already there, investigating the murder called in by the victim's daughter.

The storm hits before anything can be done, and when Hurricane Katrina is over, the body is gone, as is all the forensic evidence of the crime scene. Cliff St. James is now off the police force and devastated by the destruction of his mixed martial arts studio. He's troubled by the unsolved murder, and when the victim's daughter approaches him to investigate, there are more leads than answers.

This gripping, gritty first novel by Ed Kovacs will draw readers into the world of the "New Normal" post-Katrina as a city and ex-cop come to grips with an unsolved murder. There is corruption at every turn, and more than a few suspects, as the bar owner who was killed (a Vietnamese pilot who worked for the CIA during the Vietnam war) was connected to people at every corner of the Crescent City.

There's the former mayor of New Orleans, who is being investigated by the FBI on corruption charges; there's the New Orleans CIA station chief who was a business partner of the dead man; there's more than one drug lord who has come across his path; and the there's the bar's co-owner, a woman who was the dead man's lover. Even the daughter who's paying for the investigation is covering up plenty of the past.

In solving the murder mystery, readers are taken on a wild ride through New Orleans as it existed just after the hurricane hit. The novel's plot has plenty of action, loads of suspects, and undeniable suspense. The main character, Cliff St. James, is a likable leading man, and the villains (of which there are an endless supply) perfectly suit the storyline. This thoroughly enjoyable thriller showcases the author's talent well, and as a security contractor himself, it's likely that there are plenty more great stories worth telling in his repertoire. His readers, no doubt, will be awaiting them.

Christine Zibas is a freelance writer and former director of publications for a Chicago nonprofit.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, January 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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