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THE MASKS OF AUNTIE LAVEAU by Christine Matthews


by & Christine Matthews

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-26898-X
Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur

He owns a bookstore, she hosts St. Louis’s top-rated home-shopping show, but that doesn’t mean they can’t catch murderers, does it? Amateur sleuths Gil and Claire Hunt are supported by a tradition sturdy enough to survive even this colorless performance. Dispatched by her TV station to scout New Orleans for merchandise, Claire drags Gil along. They get a call from a local named Auntie Laveau, who makes the kind of exotic Mardi Gras masks Claire thinks her audience might buy. A meeting is arranged, but Auntie doesn’t show. Someone pretending to be her does, though, and soon enough, the real Auntie—who incidentally claims kinship with celebrated 19th-century New Orleans voodoo queen Marie Laveau —turns up dead. Though the Hunts are back home by this time, Gil has been well and truly voodoo-struck. Fascinated by that old black magic, he’s eager to delve, and when Detective Lasalle phones requesting his help, he sees his chance to hop back on a plane in order to identify the woman lying comatose in a New Orleans hospital, a woman Lasalle thinks might be the bogus Auntie. It’s a good guess, and Gil corroborates it—whereupon he’s drawn step by step more deeply into a situation he senses will prove awkward. But it’s almost as if he has no choice. Has he been hexed?

A walk on the white-bread side. Follows Murder Is the Deal of the Day (1999), the uninspired series debut, and is only marginally better.