Ken Wells, . . Random, $24.95 (364pp) ISBN 978-0-375-50876-9
Wells follows his Catahoula Bayou trilogy with this entertaining novel about imperiled Louisiana wetlands. Tom Huff, regional vice president of Standard of Texas Oil Company—“Big Tex” in fictional Chacahoula Parish—wants to route a pipeline through the treasured tract of bayou that Justin Pitre inherited from his grandfather. With the help of Juke Charpentier—a bully with a Big Tex expense account—Huff will do anything to gain access to Justin’s land. Compounding the threat are U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plans to dredge a shipping channel and Huff’s secret, illegal dumping of toxic waste in the bayou. Drawn into the center of this morass is Gov. Joe T. Evangeline, who, two years after his wife’s death, is having a hard time keeping up his bon vivant image. Julie Galjour, a smart and attractive attorney with the Department of Environmental Conservation, however, is determined to persuade the Guv to make the right decisions—and also, perhaps, to draw him out of his malaise. The plot’s many wild turns and feel-good ending may remind readers of Carl Hiaasen’s novels. Wells is a native of southern Louisiana, and his love of Cajun culture and its patois, food and ties to the landscape shines throughout.
Reviewed on: 07/16/2007