Burnt Black: A Cliff St. James Novel
Minotaur, 2013 (2013)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
his 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.
hey 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?
pparently 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!
here are shocking revelations about the activities of the
. 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.
t 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.
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