Author: Susan A. Fleet,

Publisher: Music and Mayhem Press



I e-met this interesting lady on Goodreads and decided to try her Frank Renzi detective series. This is the second book in that series. Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, it explores that dark side of human nature, stalking. We’ve all heard about it. Obsessed perpetrators start badgering celebrities, usually women, things escalate, and they descend into dark paranoia and violence when they can’t achieve their psychotic goals. Stalking can occur at all levels of victims’ notoriety too, of course, but this case is classic—the victim is a famous flute player.

Homicide detective Renzi has his hands full, though. Other cases—a robbery in a white suburb that has the media coming down on NOPD because a woman was murdered, and the murder of a black teenage girl with the voice of an angel—take him into the heart of the drug-ridden and hopeless squalor of the New Orleans projects. The teenager was a squatter in an abandoned apartment there. Her cocaine-addicted mother and absentee father moved away after Katrina, leaving her to fend for herself. Her boyfriend is a promising sax player at a local high school geared to artistic youths. He’s forced to drive the getaway car in the robbery to avoid the rape of his girlfriend by the drug-dealing robber.

Renzi makes sense of what’s going on—that’s the plot of this interesting story. Woven into the plot are socially important themes we shouldn’t ignore. Stalking is a major one, of course. How natural disasters can cause large havoc in urban centers already corrupted by poverty and vice is another. How parents’ actions can do horrible damage to their children is a third. You get the idea. I often say I write the kind of books I like to read. The converse is true: I like to read the kind of books I write, books with interesting and exciting plots, complex and intriguing characters, and settings that can grip you. I’ve found a kindred soul in Ms. Fleet.

Renzi is a complex main character torn between his job and things we might call part of a “normal life.” He’s coming off a relationship with the woman from Omaha he met in the previous novel in this series. He develops one with a fellow cop who’s a cop’s widow with her own issues. This is another theme: can cops have normal lives? With Renzi and his new romantic interest’s angst, and the series of recent events ripped from our headlines, one has to wonder why anyone would want to be a cop. Renzi and his new lover provide an answer: service to the community in an attempt to put some good back into this noir world. This is also an important theme.

Music is another important theme here, from the elitist concert hall venues to the sites of New Orleans’ nightlife. Ms. Fleet, a trumpeter, has extensively researched flute playing for this novel. Her descriptions of performances, techniques, and the artsy high school so central to this book are spot on. Her insights into the angst and overload of NOPD after Katrina, also researched extensively, are pithy and educational. There’s a lot happening in this book. It isn’t for the squeamish, but it’s a great example of the genre that I can recommend to every reader who likes mystery, suspense, and police procedural novels.