Jazz Funeral

Julie Smith, Author Ballantine Books $18 (365p) ISBN 978-0-449-90742-9
Everybody loved easygoing Hamson Brocato, producer of the successful New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, but even so he ended up stabbed to death in his kitchen the night of his own JazzFest party. NOPD detective Skip Langdon, Smith's spunky heroine last seen in New Orleans Mourning, gets a ready-made suspect list from the victim's live-in lover, singing star Ti-Belle Thiebaud. Included are Ariel Bruge, Ham's assistant, apparently a woman scorned; his father George, enmeshed with family members in a bitter disagreement over the family's fast food (``Poor Boy's Po' Boys'') chain; and Patty, the stepmother Ham was cool about. Skip notes the list's omissions: Ti-Belle herself (often heard arguing with Ham at the top of her powerful voice) and Melody, Ham's teenaged half-sister who vanished the same day Ham died. Skip doesn't miss much as she probes the victim's tangled relationships, remaining all the while a consistently convincing character herself, grumbling about her boss and anxious about her long-distance significant other. Smith's Big Easy setting is a lively blend of big city and gossipy small town. Author tour. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1993
Release date: 04/01/1993
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