By Clark Isaacs, Clark’s Eye on Books
This fast-paced serial murder mystery debut by Holli Castillo, entitled “Gumbo Justice”, takes place in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina.
Ryan Murphy is a prosecutor seeking promotion to an elite squad of attorneys which she believes will make her career stand out. Her illustrious family includes a captain on the New Orleans Police Department who overshadows her own accomplishments.
During her tenure with law enforcement as a prosecutor, her superior attorneys required Ryan to become directly involved at the scenes of heinous crimes as they felt she would better prosecute the perpetrators. She sees first-hand the bodies of victims and the handiwork of the killer. Each of the deaths is orchestrated by the killer to achieve a special pattern that is linked to Ryan. The question of whether she is a target is raised early in the book and lingers on. Her safety becomes a primary concern of her father and he assigns a couple of his detectives to keep an eye out for her protection.
She is a single lady who loves to escape by having late evening rendezvous at a local bistro with a bottle. She drinks Tequila at home regularly and often falls asleep in a stupor. Hung-over at times, she still performs her lawyerly duties flawlessly and gets convictions of high profile crimes. There are times when her behavior gets a bit rowdy, but it is all in keeping with the storyline.
A short-coming in this novel is the lack of description of many unique and memorable places found in the City of New Orleans. Too much emphasis is given to a lot of street names. A stranger will find this somewhat distracting, but after a time it all blends when the tale is more developed. This is a well-constructed glimpse at the legal justice system as it could be in New Orleans, but brevity should not have hindered Holli Castillo from giving the reader full measure. Hopefully, book two in this mystery series, will satisfy those who want to read more about New Orleans and the exploits of Ryan Murphy.
Holli is a good writer and she realistically portrays her characters so they come alive. Your senses will become enmeshed with her passages because she is a good story teller who captures you with her vivid style. There is a surprise ending! This book is recommended as an adult book with a dash of New Orleans’ seamy side.
Author: Holli Castillo
Pages: 238, $14.95,
Publication Date: June, 2009,
Published by: Oak Tree Press
Clark Isaacs is an accomplished book critic who is published in local newspapers and national book review lists. Contact Clark through his website at clarkisaacs.ning.com or through NewsBlaze.