Bayou City Secrets

Reviewed by Andy Smart

"It was on it's last legs and as worn out as the sheets in a two-bit whorehouse but Joe Glaviana wasn't the kind of man you return a car to and demand your money back. So I drove the damn thing until I walked outside one spring morning and found a priest sprinkling holy water on it and administering the last rites"

Think 1936, think cold windy streets, think people in fedora hats and trench coats; think the period which is the spiritual home of the private eye. At the end of the day, this is somehow the decade in which all down-at-heel private detectives live, when we think PI we think, essentially, Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. Stylish clothes, snappy dialogue, cars with impossibly long bonnets (or automobiles with impossibly long hoods for those who speak American). All the period needed was a good lesbian detective; in Hollis Carpenter it got one.

Hollis is the top investigative reporter for the Houston Times and her bread and butter is digging up meaningful, well-researched scoops on corruption and crime. She never backs down from a challenge, but when editor Kelly wants her to drop her piece on the theft of guns from the police evidence locker in favour of writing a society piece on the Texas centennial celebrations she quits. Then she gets a call inviting her to drinks with the paper's owner Andrew Delacroix and his wife.

Lily Delacroix is beautiful and interested in a relationship with Hollis, despite her reservations "Little voices in my head were telling me to stay away from her. There wasn't a solution to this thing without someone getting hurt. And I damned sure didn't want it to be me" (you just have to quote this dialogue). She's married and this is her first flirtation with a woman. What's more Andrew Delacroix is powerful and packs loads of influence.

The story unfolds at a fast pace, full of characters with names like Tully Kirk, Collette Chateau and Cotton Peebles. To say too much would be to give the plot away, so to find out what happens go ahead and read the book. Return to the Reviews index