|C.L. Bevill: Bayou Moon|
Thomas Dunne Books (Hardcover), ISBN 0-312-28207-9
Twenty-five years ago, Garlande Thibeaux became the talk of tiny LaValle, Louisiana, when she ran off with Luc St. Michel, the prominent citizen of the town. He left behind a wife, Eleanor, and two children, Geraud and Eugenie, while Garlande left behind a young daughter, Mignon, and a husband heading swiftly toward alcoholism. The sheriff and a couple other powerful men in town promptly ordered Garlande's husband to pack up his daughter and leave town, never to return.
Now Mignon returns to the town, determined to find out exactly what happened to her mother and Luc. Despite hiring a private investigator to look into their whereabouts, no trace of Garlande or Luc ever turned up in 25 years. Mignon suspects foul play, with the most likely culprit being Eleanor or someone working under Eleanor's orders.
Mignon sets tongues wagging in town, primarily because of her mirror-image likeness to her mother. To make matters worse, Mignon buys the tiny shack she lived in as a child and begins asking questions about the past, trying to dig up secrets nearly everyone wants to keep buried. Someone first tries to scare her off by ransacking her hotel room, but then her stalker gets nasty. A huge and deadly cottonmouth waits under her bed, nearly striking Mignon. Someone shoves her into a flood-swollen stream during a thunderstorm. And a shadowy figure lurks in the woods near the shack.
Eleanor, however, seems to want to put the past to rest. For years, rumors circulated about the St. Michel mansion being haunted, and recently sightings of a woman with long red hair -- Garlande -- encourage the rumors. A superstitious woman, Eleanor consults psychics and spiritualists. She also conducts sťances at the mansion to rid the place of the evil. Mignon's presence at the sťances seems to sooth the spirits. But the thuds and ringing bells may not be the work of the spirits, and Mignon came back to town with her own agenda, which brings her deeper and deeper into danger.
C.L. Bevill's tale of scandal and murder grabs the reader from the start. Twists and turns unfold themselves along the way. The book also boasts a great cast of supporting characters. Suspicion falls on nearly everyone, and when Mignon finally learns the secrets she sought, the answers come as a surprise. An excellent read, with a nice Cajun flavor.
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