The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin

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Based on a real life case in New Orleans, 1918, The Axeman’s Jazz is not short on material. A voodoo axe-murderer strikes at random, leaving tarot cards, locked doors and entrails in his wake. He writes to the newspaper stating all those playing jazz will be spared. And thus begins a party to end all parties in a city which is a swirling gumbo of music, cultures, race, with extra sin thrown in.

Three parties are acutely interested: Michael the old timer Irish detective with a past, Luca the newly-released Italian Mafioso, and Ida, an ambitious mixed race Pinkerton’s secretary with an obsession with Sherlock Holmes.

Oh, and her best friend sidekick is Lewis Armstrong. Or Louis as we know him. Really. I’m not a fan of using a famous historical figures as a hook. It’s usually a bit token but this just works as its in keeping with the jazz spirit of New Orleans.

The three strands of the story stay separate but parallel, so you have to figure out how the pieces fit together as they criss-cross the city. Which is nice as often all the heavy lifting is done with a handy explanation by the murderer at the end. Here’s it on you.

There are a few coincedences and cliches but I’ll forgive Celestin that, for all the fun of being in New Orleans for the Axeman’s jazz.

Read: For an interesting cross between historical fiction and detective novel.

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