Hell or High Water

Joy Castro, Author
Joy Castro. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-00457-4
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Post-Katrina New Orleans provides the vivid backdrop for this uneven first novel, the first in a new crime thriller series from Castro (The Truth Book: A Memoir). In 2008, Times-Picayune reporter Nola Céspedes, who’s eager to leave lifestyle fluff pieces behind, takes on the unenviable challenge of reporting on sex offenders still living off the grid after the devastating hurricane. Interviewing potentially dangerous rapists and child molesters isn’t how Nola, who was raised in poverty by her Cuban-born single mother, thought she’d start writing features, but a story is a story. The more involved Nola becomes, to the detriment of her personal life, the more convinced she is that the recent disappearance of 25-year-old tourist Amber Waybridge from the French Quarter is connected to the men she’s investigating. Nola’s obsession with the Waybridge case—and the possible perpetrators—deepens with ominous results. Nola’s gritty appeal compensates only in part for a plot with too many holes. Agent: Mitchell Waters, Curtis Brown. (July)
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