Introducing Jock Boucher, black Cajun federal district judge, who may be young and recently appointed but isn't afraid of ruffling feathers in his hometown of New Orleans. Rejecting pointed advice from on high, he investigates corruption charges leveled against the indisposed senior judge whose cases he has taken on.
Twenty years ago, says scientist Bob Palmetto, powerful Rexcon Energy bribed that judge to allow the company to steal Palmetto’s designs for tapping a new source of energy, methane hydrate, from the ocean floor. Held in contempt, Palmetto became a fugitive. Finally apprehended, the haggard genius pleads his case to Boucher, who determines that his lawyer was, indeed, killed to keep him from spilling the beans to the FBI. When another lawyer connected to the case turns up dead outside Boucher's house, the Cajun goes renegade, pretending to sell secrets from Palmetto's cloud files to Rexcon. With help from Fitch, a New Orleans cop, and Dawn, a Rexcon employee whose attraction to Jock is greater than her loyalty to the company, Boucher survives threats on his life and thwarts ruthless company CEO John Perry. Much like Donna Leon's mystery novels featuring beloved Venetian detective Guido Brunetti, this book derives its appeal from the protagonist's unflappability, casual charm and devotion to his city. The case takes him up to Boston, where Palmetto is briefly held; New York, where Jock's aloof girlfriend Malika declares her independence; and the Carolina Trough, site of some tense submarine diving. Though music is surprisingly absent here, Boucher will always make time for Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine's or beignets and chicory coffee in Jackson Square.
Lousy title notwithstanding, this is an auspicious beginning for a mystery series featuring one of the most agreeably easygoing heroes on this side of the Atlantic.