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Crescent Blues Book ViewsBella Books (Trade Paperback), ISBN 1-931513-31-7

When I need a quick fiction fix, I always grab a detective story, and what a treat I discovered between the covers of Baxter Clare's third and latest Detective Franco Mystery! Prefaced with a passage from Will Shakespeare's Julius Caesar that describes a manifestation of inexplicable, perhaps supernatural evil and peppered with racy police slang, Cry Havoc delivers a well thought out and elegantly executed mystery.

Book: baxter clare, cry havoc
I'm new to Baxter's series of crime novels and now itch to get a hold of the others to learn more about the long-legged, tough, blonde, blue-eyed, heavy drinking, opera-loving Homicide Lieutenant L.A. Franco or Frank, as she prefers folk to address her. She displays some of this disparate store of features to her colleagues in the squad room, others she saves for her home when the chief coroner with whom she thinks she may be falling in love, comes by to spend a night.

In a not-so-common approach to detective stories we learn in the very first pages -- as does Detective Franco -- that the whodunnit file on the naked corpse that sits propped in his car with his throat cut from side to side and in the company of a headless chicken, will point straight at Mother Love Jones. As for the last three decades, the hard part will be getting the mud of the crime to stick to the Mother. Frank and her squad dig into the Mother's past, wondering how many more corpses they will find there to add to the rapidly growing pile in the present.

I enjoyed watching Frank and her newly staffed squad gather bits of evidence while also adjusting to working together as a team. You'll learn a lot here about voodoo and hoodoo, about the fine differences between the two as well as of their more gruesome (and effective) practices. The tender off-duty interludes between Frank and her Doc Lawless, as they tentatively explore their new personal relationship, strike fine balance with the novel's escalating manifestations of evil.

Cry Havoc gives the reader a satisfyingly strong plot, enriched with an absorbing back story, character sketches that break the molds of type -- and with a cherry-on-the-top of an exciting writing style that also presents itself for admiration.

Moira Richards

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