Superstition and science collide in a New Orleans tale of an 18th-century gallows' curse and 20th-century retribution, from forensic pathologist Donaldson--whose characters include a medical examiner, a forensic fabric expert, a forensic glass and cigarette expert, and a deputy medical examiner who's a wizard at computer-collating odd facts. When Kit Franklyn joins the staff of M.E. Andy Broussard as a special ""suicide investigator,"" her first task is to decide whether a recent spate of deaths were suicides or murders. Common to all: Type-O blood, scleral hemorrhaging, the humming of a nursery tune just before they died--and proximity to an Escadrille automobile, whose upholstery fabric was produced years back by the factory now owned by Crescent City industries and managed by Bert Weston. Then: Kit's refrigerator is booby-trapped to electrocute her; Broussard is an attempted poisoning victim; and a piece of taillight at a crime scene matches up with fabric expert's Vogel's car. He lures Kit to the swamp; Broussard saves her, wounds Vogel, who flees to the factory to release the poison drums on an unsuspecting New Orleans citizenry--thereby avenging an injustice done to an ancestor two centuries back. The New Orleans fire department saves the day, with a slight assist from Grandma Oustellette's amulets. A not-very-scary horror story played out in a not-very-interesting crime lab. Skimpy characterizations, but there is some slight magic to Grandma settin' in her shanty. Too simple for the Stephen King crowd; too tame for the procedural fans. Maybe best suited for airport racks.