Inspired looniness from veteran L.A. book/theater critic Lochte (Sleeping Dog, Laughing Dog), who now releases Big Easy p.i. Terry Manion from a rehab clinic to learn that his former mentor, J.J. Legendre, has committed suicide--a fact disputed by the former madam and current security agency head Nadia Wells, a Mammy Yokum tough friend of both Manion and J.J.'s. To avenge J.J., Manion runs afoul of the dreaded Bennedettos, Crawfish and Reevie; a contract killer (``Croaker''); an old schoolmate and semi-crooked cop, Eben Munn (and his luscious sister who plays decoy for--and footsie with--Manion); and assorted members of the tony Gaymaude family, including a coke-addled widow, an illegitimate son, and a besieged paterfamilias. Also lurking about are senators on the take and bribed cops galore. Many imaginative deaths later, and after innumerable car chases, zydeco refrains, indecipherable Cajun threats, and father-son double-crosses, Manion understands who died how, by whom, and why so many bodies featured a suicide note in the words of novelist Marcus Steiner. A darkly comedic New Orleans primer--with the food, music, and heat interrupted by bullets. Eccentric characters, rococo plot, and a fast, furious read.