Hollywood has sent its emissaries to New Iberia Parish to film a Civil War epic in the steaming mists of the Louisiana bayou -- reawakening the ghosts of a past best left undisturbed.
In the sixth Dave Robicheaux mystery, Burke explores new narrative territory with qualified success, leading his Cajun detective into a series of dreamlike encounters with a troop of Confederate soldiers under Gen. John Bell Hood. Soon after the severely mutilated body of a young woman is found in a ditch outside the southern Louisiana town of New Iberia, deputy sheriff Robicheaux busts Elrod Sykes, star of a Hollywood movie being filmed nearby, for drunk driving. Sykes says a skeleton wrapped in chains was unearthed during filming in a marsh where, in 1957, Robicheaux witnessed--but remained silent about--the killing of a chained black man by two white men. As the belatedly guilt-stricken detective tries to identify that victim, another young woman is brutally killed. Then, Sykes's co-star is shot to death, perhaps having been mistaken for Robicheaux, who gradually connects the recent murders to Louisiana mob-kingpin Baby Feet Balboni, a key backer of the movie. With the help of FBI agent Rosie Gomez and the intermittent, often elliptical advice of the ghostly Gen. Hood, Robicheaux nails the psycho--but not before the man has kidnapped the detective's young daughter Alafair. Burke's evocative prose is well suited to the misty bayou scenes in which past and present mingle, producing a violent, somber, deeply satisfying crossover novel.
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