The Neon Smile

Dick Lochte, Author
Dick Lochte, Author Simon & Schuster $21 (304p) ISBN 978-0-671-74712-1
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Mass Market Paperbound - 325 pages - 978-0-8041-1405-9
Paperback - 242 pages - 978-1-935797-34-0
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Wrapping a 30-year-old investigation inside a contemporary case, Lochte (Sleeping Dog; Blue Bayou) more than doubles the cerebral challenges and literary pleasures in this second appearance of New Orleans PI Terry Manion. A self-described ``Henry James sort of guy in a Howard Stern world,'' Manion is hired by a TV producer to unearth details of the 1965 story of black militant cult leader Tyrone Pano. But he finds himself holding the threads of a pair of mysteries once handled by his own mentor, J.J. Legendre. In a 34-chapter flashback, J.J. is seen embroiled in the ramifications of Pano's arrest for the murder of an FBI plant, while supposedly solving the serial murder case of the Meddler, an imitator of a Marie Laveau voodoo-era killer. As Manion exhumes this latter puzzle, he finds some of the principals still alive and lethal, busy covering their tracks in cases current and historical. Over a dozen richly drawn characters populate this story--from a madame-turned-PI to a black artist who renders Mona Lisa in neon--all set against the delightfully grotesque and corrupt backdrops of 1965 and 1995 New Orleans. Chockful of dark humor, wordplay and subtle clues, the novel is rich enough to reward multiple readings. (Apr.)
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