cover image Cities of the Dead

Cities of the Dead

Linda Barnes. St. Martin's Press, $14.95 (184pp) ISBN 978-0-312-13940-7

Elderly, wealthy and game, Mary Hillman catches the next plane from Boston to New Orleans when her long-time cook, Dora, vacationing there, calls to ask for help. Dora has been accused of stabbing to death her former husband while both attended a banquet for the great chefs of New Orleans. Mary enlists the aid of her nephew Michael Spraggue, an actor and private eye, license expired. Tracing the victim's life back to his multi-aliased early days, Michael visits a hoodoo practitioner, gets bounced from a sleazy bar, treks thrugh a cemetery, and unearths a few of Dora's deepest secrets, finally saving her life. He also has occasion to use his acting skills in apt and interesting fashion. Barnes's tone in her fourth Spraggue mystery (Dead Heat and Bitter Finish is as sprightly and engaging as ever, especially in relating a romance between aunt Mary and detective sergeant Rawlins. February 14