Burnt Black

Ed Kovacs. Minotaur, $25.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-02029-1
Outré crime elements compensate only in part for the relatively weak plot of Kovacs’s third novel featuring New Orleans PD homicide detective Cliff St. James (after 2012’s Good Junk). Sixteen months after hurricane Katrina, while St. James and his police partner and close friend, Honey Baybee, are looking at a house for Honey’s mother on a day off, they receive a radio report of shots fired next door. The two cops enter the house in question, which reminds St. James of the French Quarter’s Voodoo Museum, with its clutter of fetishes, rattles, and drums. In one room they find the bodies of two naked Hispanic men on a sacrificial altar; the victims look as if they died of fright. The ante gets upped significantly when evidence emerges that the Skulls, “a bloodthirsty, brutally ruthless Mexican drug cartel,” may somehow be involved. Kovacs’s depiction of post-Katrina New Orleans in this installment isn’t as compelling as his work in the two previous books in the series. Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Associates. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/09/2013
Release date: 11/19/2013
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