A New Orleans crime drama plays it by the book.
Ex-cop-cum–mixed-martial artist Cliff St. James is offered a job he can’t refuse when his former friend Sam Siu’s daughter, Twee, offers him work as a private investigator. It’s not just that Cliff needs the money; it’s that Sam once told Twee that Cliff was the only person she could trust. Besides, Cliff feels as though it’s partially his duty, considering that Twee wants to hire him to investigate her father’s death. On the day of Hurricane Katrina, the NOPD found a body that looked like Sam’s, minus a face. But the evidence has mainly been washed away and the department inundated with bigger crimes since the storm. Cliff is fairly sure he can find the truth, although it quickly becomes clear that Twee is hiding more than she’s telling. Even her deceptiveness makes sense, since the closer Cliff gets to the truth, the more complex Sam’s life appears to have been. Soon Cliff is dealing with the CIA, the FBI, a gang of Vietnamese immigrants, a cunning drug lord and a lot more trouble than he bargained for. Thrown into the mix are Cliff’s need to bed every potential leading lady and a surfeit of Big Easy folk talk. Luckily, Cliff’s got a sort-of partner he can count on in straight-shooting Sgt. Honey Baybee, whose name may be the only dumb thing about her.
Mired in a laboriously authentic voice, Kovacs’s return (Unseen Forces, 2004) is a slow starter that gains momentum in spite of its adherence to formula.