House of Blues

Julie Smith, Author Ballantine Books $21.5 (343p) ISBN 978-0-449-90936-2
In her latest adventure, which manages to be both wickedly paced and haunting, New Orleans police detective Skip Langdon (last seen in New Orleans Beat) faces some of her darkest hours and comes of age. Arthur Hebert, a prominent restaurateur and domineering patriarch hated by his children, doesn't attend the opening of his restaurant in New Orleans' first casino--because he's been gunned down at home while enjoying his usual Monday evening meal of red beans and rice. Hebert's daughter, his son-in-law and his baby granddaughter have vanished. In the race to find the killer and the missing family, Skip calls on the denizens of the New Orleans underworld: prostitutes who are good mothers; graduates of exclusive high schools who have hit rock bottom; ministers with no souls; yuppie heroin addicts; and a memorably chilling villain in the person of the drop-dead evil gangster, Delavon. Smith carries off a tricky balancing act, rendering Skip heroic while imbuing her with a credibly textured emotional life. But the real star of this superb effort is New Orleans, which has never seemed more dangerous or alluring--or less easy. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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