Special Issue:
Women & Voodoo
August '08

 

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Cry Havoc
ISBN 1-931513-31-7
by Baxter Clare
Published by Bella Books
Reviewed by Moira Richards

August 2008

When I need a quick fiction fix, I always grab a detective story and what a treat I discovered between the covers of Baxter Clare's third and latest Detective Franco Mystery! Prefaced with a passage from Will Shakespeare's Julius Caesar that describes a manifestation of inexplicable perhaps supernatural evil, and peppered also with racy police slang, Cry Havoc delivers a well thought out and elegantly executed mystery.

I'm new to Baxter's series of crime novels and now itch to get ahold of the others to learn more about the long-legged, tough, blonde, blue-eyed, heavy drinking, opera-loving Homicide Lieutenant LA Franco or Frank, as she prefers folk to address her. Some of this disparate store of features she displays to her colleagues in the squad room, others she saves for her home when the Chief Coroner with whom she thinks she may be falling in love, comes by to spend a night.

In a not-so-common approach to detective stories we learn in the very first pages as does Detective Franco, that the whodunnit file on the naked corpse that sits propped in his car with his throat cut from side to side and in the company of a headless chicken, will point straight at Mother Love Jones. The hard part now, as for the last three decades, always ends up in getting any mud to stick to the Mother. Frank and her squad dig into the Mother's past, wondering how many more corpses they will find there to add to the rapidly growing pile in the present.

I enjoyed watching Frank and her newly staffed squad gather bits of evidence while also adjusting to working together as a team. You'll learn a lot here about voodoo and hoodoo, about the fine differences between the two as well as of their more gruesome (and effective :-) practices. The tender off-duty interludes between Frank and her Doc Lawless, as they tentatively explore their new personal relationship, strike fine balance with the novel's escalating manifestations of evil.

Cry Havoc gives the reader a satisfyingly strong plot, enriched with an absorbing back story, character sketches that break the moulds of type - and with a cherry-on-the-top of an exciting writing style that presents itself too, for admiration.

   

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