COLD STEEL RAIN by Kenneth Abel


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It rains a lot more in New Orleans than in New York, but otherwise it's business as usual for Abel (The Blue Wall, 1996, etc.), who this time trains his gimlet eye for mobsters, bagmen, and crooked cops on the Big Easy.

Three years ago, A.D.A. Danny Chaisson's long-time patron Jimmy Boudrieux asked him to torpedo a case against a troublemaker who'd otherwise roll over on Jimmy. Danny, mindful that Jimmy had, among other favors, sent him to Tulane, did the dirty and resigned from his job the next day. Now he works for Jimmy, doing errands he'd rather not think about. When he's sent to pick up a suitcase from small-time crook Dewitt Foley and goes back into the restaurant on a just-remembered errand, he finds Foley and four others dead, in a massacre that might have been lifted from L.A. Confidential. Everything that follows, though, is pure Abel. There's Danny's slow dance among the cops looking to place him at the scene and the mobsters looking to nail down the loose ends by eliminating him. And there's Danny's faster dance with his ex-wife Helen, now one of Jimmy's lawyers; with Mickie Vega, the ATF agent he could love if only she'd quit presenting herself as a juvenile caseworker; and with Jimmy's trash-talking daughter Maura, whom he's just passing those long rainy nights with while he waits to see who punches his ticket first. The trail of the fatal gun takes Danny to some of the toughest ghettoes in the city, where Abel shows boys getting killed for trying to act like men, and his memories take him back to his father's suicide—a fate he has a hard time imagining he'll avoid.

A familiar story made fresh by the way Abel takes apart crooked Louisiana politics (is there any other kind?) and makes you care about every last one of the quick and the dead.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-399-14662-8
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2000


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