Enviably inspired, Parry (Bold Sons of Erin, 2003, etc.) fills pages with goldenrod sentences that nod and dazzle, as though he were a writer dropped from heaven.
In a Babylonian mash of tongues and argots representing the occupied city of New Orleans in 1863—bayou, Creole, voodoo, French, Pennsylvania Christian, Irish lyric—this is the sixth in the brilliantly researched and hauntingly rich Major Abel Jones Civil War mystery thrillers. Secret Agent Jones stories have a lovely simile-packed prose—and admirers of the lickety-split, Saturday morning serial Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom will delight in this Jones’s jaw-dropping cliffhangers that throng the opening chapters. The Major spins without stop from one demented bash to the next, jabbing villains with his cane sword, fighting off ether fumes, being caught in a house fire, falling three stories from a roof, and winding up naked in a big warm bath with a poisonous seven-foot snake swimming toward him. A thoughtful friend loads Abel with a stink-charm against haunts, which the foolish Abel tosses away, only to find himself stunned stiff as a musket barrel by voodoo. He’s rescued from this merry bit of a muddle by his old companion Mr. Barnaby B. Barnaby, who hustles the stiffening Abel off to a swamp-priestess whose magic skills save him for his next cliffhanger. He’s trailing whoever murdered the heiress Miss Susan Peabody, a Yankee beauty, her body left to wash up on a levee, all that lovely life lost quick as a nickel at the county fair. Then others vanish—and the dead are rumored to walk!
Parry, a retired Army intelligence officer and former defense policy analyst, leaves fellow thriller writers flat as salted cod.