These books aren't rocket science or literary greats...but they're not supposed to be. They are entertaining, fun and have enough of a puzzle to make them interesting but not so much so that you need a pen and paper to take notes. Although they follow the "cozy mystery formula" they definitely stake their own place on the bookshelves.
Skip Langdon is a bright, sexy (but insecure about her looks) six-foot-tall detective on the New Orleans Police Force. It's obvious that Ms. Smith knows what she's talking about when it comes to Louisiana and more specifically the city of New Orleans. One of the most realistic views of the city that I've ever read, not always complimentary, but always honest. (A year spent writing for the N.O. Times-Picayune newspaper certainly provided a good background for knowing the city inside out.)
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It's Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and civic leader and socialite Chauncy St. Amant has been crowned Rex, King of Carnival. But his day of glory comes to an abrupt and bloody end when a parade-goer dressed as Dolly Parton guns him down. Is the killer his aimless, promiscuous daughter Marcelle? Homosexual, mistreated son Henry? Helpless, alcoholic wife Bitty? Or some unknown player? Turns out the king had enemies.
Enter resourceful heroine Skip Langdon, a rookie police officer and former debutante turned cynic of the Uptown crowd. Scouring the streets for clues, interviewing revelers and street people with names like Jo Jo, Hinky, and Cookie, and using her white glove contacts, the post-deb rebel cop encounters a tangled web of brooding clues and ancient secrets that could mean danger for her--and doom for the St. Amants.
Langdon, with her weight worries, insecurities, and yet overall toughness has long been a favorite of those who like their female sleuths bold, smart, and refreshingly human.
I waver between three and four stars on this series, leaning a little more towards the four. Some of the books have a few more errors than the others, but ALL are definitely a good read. If you enjoy southern mysteries or series writers such as Sue Grafton, Nevada Barr, Marcia Muller or Linda Barnes then you're sure to enjoy these. I'm looking forward to testing the waters on other of Smith's writings. If you beat me to it, be sure to let me know what you think!