Race relations are one subject of this seductive slice of supernatural noir set in 1934 New Orleans. John “Pearly” Partner and Ginger LaFrance, a pair of homicidal grifters, cook up a scheme to kidnap a wealthy white businessman’s son and daughter, hoping to score a ransom that will finance their escape to Mexico. Only one unforeseen snag in their plans: the daughter, Nilla, is a “listener” in psychic rapport with Curtis Mayhew, a young black man. Though the two have never met in person, Curtis feels compelled to come to Nilla’s rescue when she and her brother are abducted, even though it means convincing the incredulous of his special talents and navigating difficult racial dynamics of ’30s Louisiana. McCammon (Freedom of the Mask) conjures believable characters whose sympathetic plight pulls the reader headlong into the novel’s volatile mix of crime and fantasy. Its tense finale, paced at breakneck speed, will have readers turning pages until its surprise-packed end. Agent: Cameron McClure, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Feb.)
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