Select one of the keywords
Burnt Black: A Cliff St. James Novel    by Ed Kovacs order for
Burnt Black
by Ed Kovacs
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the first of Ed Kovacs' Cliff St. James mysteries that I've read and I enjoyed it. New Orleans PD homicide detective St. James (who also moonlights as a PI) is partnered with Honey Baybee (what a name!) - they are close friends and perhaps might be more, but end up conflicted in this episode.

They find what looks like a sacrificial altar and two freshly dead Hispanics, their 'faces frozen in grimacing death masks', in the home of Professor Drake, which is also filled with items relating to the occult. They also find fifty-eight graves on the property, of cats, all missing a front left leg, and three decapitated heads in an ice chest. What is going on?

Apparently the two dead men had worked for Drake and were also his students in a 'spiritual studies group'. He suggests the victims might have improperly summoned a demon and lawyers up. Further investigation reveals a link between the dead men and a particularly brutal Mexican drug cartel, Las Calaveras - demons indeed!

There are shocking revelations about the activities of the spiritual group. St. James has disturbing experiences that reek of the occult. And he consults a retired police officer, once the department's occult expert, who's obsessed with Professor Drake. The ex-cop gives St. James a charm for protection, which he soon needs badly.

At first the story seems to be all over the map, but Ed Kovacs knots his plot threads together into a surprising conclusion, in which St. James deals with unfinished business in Chichen Itza, ending a serial killer's career.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews