Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Review: Baronne Street

About the Book:
Love means sometimes having to solve your ex-girlfriend's murder. 

Burleigh Drummond, a fixer, ignores a voice-mail plea for help from his ex-girlfriend Coco Robicheaux. She broke his heart when she dumped him, so why should he care? He goes about his job of manipulating the imbroglios of bluebloods and politicos. Still, Drummond misses Coco and regrets not answering her call.

The next morning he is rousted from bed by two extremely unpleasant homicide detectives with the news that Coco has been raped and bludgeoned to death. The detectives also share they have been instructed to do nothing about the case, but should he provide them with evidence... 

As Drummond investigates he discovers Coco lived a clandestine existence in the city's netherworld and had been drafted as an unwitting pawn in a plot to disrupt the upcoming mayoral election. As often happens with pawns, she was sacrificed. 

When threats cloaked as friendly warnings escalate to an old-fashioned beating, Drummond enlists a reputed mercenary, a black-separatist reporter, and a computer hacker to assist in his investigation and, eventually, revenge. As Drummond negotiates through the maze of deception and he finds himself at odds with his blueblood clients, the police chief, the mayor, and a gay crime syndicate.

My Comments:

On the one hand I'd love to tell you this book was an entertaining read, but highly unrealistic. On the other hand, yet another public official plead guilty this week. Our US Attorney here in New Orleans has made quite a name for himself by convicting public officials who think that the law doesn't really apply to them. 

In short, I loved this book. For someone who has lived in New Orleans for almost 30 years, it was fun to read about local landmarks and watering holes. I could nod my head knowingly as the book talked about the Sazerac bar at the Fairmont, F&M's Patio Bar, 3-for1 at Que Sera or dancing at 4141. When Drummond parked in the 600 block of Baronne (where I used to work) and went to the gay "health club", I knew exactly which door was being discussed. 

You know those detective shows in which the detective is the narrator? That's how this book is written, in the first person, told by Burleigh Drummond, who, as one client said in the book "manipulate[s] delicate situations discreetly and keep[s] the consequences quiet".  His assignments include keeping the grandson of a rich man from doing anything too outrageous (and keeping him from paying the consequences for lesser offenses) and helping the campaign of a reform candidate for mayor (who turns out to be not so different than those who went before--as the rich man said "Why would someone go to all the trouble setting up a Rube Goldberg scheme to blackmail a politician when they're all for sale?"). He is out to find the killer of his ex-girlfriend who he now realizes he really loved, and in the process finds himself in the middle of two other cases he has taken--the rich man's grandson is involved, as is the husband of the woman who paid him to find out what her husband was doing.  

The ending is rather unrealistic, but I can't say I expected much different.  While there are no bedroom scenes in the book, there are plenty of references to those activities, and some of the language is on the crude side, so if those things bother you, this isn't the book for you.  

The book says it is set in 1993, but I found that odd (it wasn't published until 2010).  Burleigh used his cell phone regularly, and not just in his car.  I started my current job in 1993, and my boss had a car phone, and lots of folks had pagers but the omnipresent cell phone was still almost five years away for the early adopters. I'm also trying to wonder when some of those watering holes closed.  4141 was "the" dance club Uptown when I first got here in 1983.  It isn't there anymore, but I don't know when it closed.  Given the short lifespan of that type of place, I find it hard to believe it was still there in 1993, but it might have been--my clubbing days had given way to diapers by then.  

This is one that has been on my Kindle for a long time.  The author, Kent Westmoreland, sent me a review copy almost a  year ago, and there have always been things I thought I wanted to read more.  I ended up really enjoying it and give it a B+.  

1 comment:

  1. For the first time it occurs to me that "Baronne" would be the wife of the Baron.

    Yes. Frenchmen Desire Good Children says the Baronne was married to the Baron Carondelet. Makes sense that the streets are parallel and a block apart.


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