cover image Eclipse Alley

Eclipse Alley

David Fulmer. Crescent City, $18 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-99864315-1

Awkward prose and a pedestrian plot mar Fulmer’s fifth historical whodunit set in New Orleans and featuring private investigator Valentin St. Cyr (after 2009’s Lost River). In 1916, the police tap Valentin, whose “rare brew of African, Sicilian, Cherokee, and French bloodlines often caused him to appear as a different person from one moment to the next,” to assist them in solving a baffling crime: the murder of Herbert Waltham, the president of the Crescent Cotton Exchange, who was found in Eclipse Alley with his genitals and several fingers cut off. Valentin agrees to help out, but he’s unable to stop the culprit from killing another leading citizen of the city. Fulmer resorts to the tired trope of interjecting brief passages from the taunting murderer’s perspective, and the female lead—ambitious journalist Rebecca Marcus, who is “of Jewish extraction, and presented a handsome Levantine face and figure, the flesh olive and the curves pronounced, all driven by a generous dose of forward motion”—is little more than a stock supporting character. Series fans will hope for a return to form next time. (Nov.)