John Riley stumbled into the offices of the New Orleans Times – Picayune an hour and a half later after he was supposed to have started work.
New Orleans in the early ninety twenties, close to prohibition, close to racial tensions. And in the midst of it is a chain of brutal murders. Yet it is more of a human interest story than a detective or thriller.
There are two main players: cop Michael, ex-cop and ex-convict Luca. On the side there’s Louis Armstrong (that Louis Armstrong) and his friend, aspiring detective Ida. The Axeman at first seems to target only Italians, until he doesn’t. Minorities are pointing fingers at each other, the mob is involved and there’s a lot of layers only amateur sleuth Ida seems to have a clue about. But she’s mixed race, so no-one, and no-one will listen to her.
New Orleans is a character of its own. It might discard rules and morals, but that means it’s dangerous and dog eat dog as well. It’s a mean old lady, as one of the characters puts it, and one with iron teeth as well.
The case gets solved, but the reason for it even existing is more gruesome and interesting. A dark, humid story.
The Axeman’s Jazz, Ray Celestin, Mantie 2014