In 1971, the state of Minnesota was rocked by the “Butcher Boy” incident, as coverage of a family brutally murdered by one of their own swept across newspapers and television screens nationwide.
Now, in present-day New Orleans, Polly Deschamps finds herself at yet another lonely crossroads in her life. No stranger to tragedy, Polly was a runaway at the age of fifteen, escaping a nightmarish Mississippi childhood.
Lonely, that is, until she encounters architect Marshall Marchand. Polly is immediately smitten. She finds him attractive, charming, and intelligent. Marshall, a lifelong bachelor, spends most of his time with his brother Danny. When Polly’s two young daughters from her previous marriage are likewise taken with Marshall, she marries him. However, as Polly begins to settle into her new life, she becomes uneasy about her husband’s increasing dark moods, fearing that Danny may be influencing Marshall in ways she cannot understand.
But what of the ominous prediction by a New Orleans tarot card reader, who proclaims that Polly will murder her husband? What, if any, is the Marchands’ connection to the infamous “Butcher Boy” multiple homicide? And could Marshall and his eccentric brother be keeping a dark secret from Polly, one that will shatter the happiness she has forever prayed for?
Okay, I’m one of those caught up in the author’s name and just blindly grabbed the book written by Nevada Barr, too late to notice it was NOT part of the Anna Pigeon series. Oh, dear.
And I’m having a seriously difficult time trying to visualize that the same author who writes about Anna Pigeon and her experiences in the park service is the same beautiful lady whose author photo is shown below. I might be more inclined to believe the author might have been Dean Koontz, but come to think of it, I’ve not read a Koontz book quite so viciously, violently graphic (and with children as well?).
Not a book to undertake without some trigger warnings—it’s twisted, dark, and suspenseful and (perhaps just a King horror novel) difficult for me not to just DNF. This reader needed to see a meaningful conclusion, although I’d certainly predicted from the beginning the revelation. Not a big surprise at that point.
Then Polly comes along and with her two young daughters discovers a kindred spirit in Marshall, easy going, pleasant, loving, concerned. What more could a young mother need or want?
“Most had made lives they enjoyed and would only compromise for a very shiny white knight with a particularly breathtaking steed. And a very long lance…”
The setting in post-Katrina in New Orleans was interesting and lent an atmospheric touch, until Polly meets a tarot card reader who provides dark warnings that trigger her investigation. Noooo, you say… Don’t go down into the basement—or in this case—to the slum residence of the Woman in Red.
Oh, and by the way, 13 ½ is a tat described as meaning “One judge, twelve jurors, half a chance.”
Predictable, yes, (see paragraph three above), an unusual read for me, yes, I would classify as horror. But you don’t have to take my word for it, if you are willing to take a chance. Granted, the author does have a rather poetic turn of phrase, descriptive prose, tension-building expertise. But this author also writes, as mentioned now several times, the Anna Pigeon series, including my last couple reviews Destroyer Angel and Track of the Cat, as well as several prior to those. I particularly enjoy the audiobooks narrated by Barbara Rosenblat (she’s awesome). This novel is a standalone—a good thing. However, as you’ve no doubt understood by now, I’d recommend her series.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five Stars
Genre: Legal Thrillers, Murder Thrillers, Suspense
Publisher: Crossroad Press
Print Length: 253 pages
Publication Date: November 30, 2018
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
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The Author: Nevada was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras. Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.
Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in Acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN. For eighteen years she worked on stage, in commercials, industrial training films and did voice-overs for radio. During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers — Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.
Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word. Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling and was a travel writer and restaurant critic. Her first novel, Bittersweet was published in 1983. The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada’s experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995 Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons.
The rest is, shall we say, HISTORY! Nevada’s books and accomplishments have become numerous and the presses continue to roll, so in the interest of NOT having to update this page, books, awards, status on the New York Times Best Seller List — and more — will be enumerated with the relevant books else where on this website.