Back in August of last year I wrote a review of To Murder A Saint by Nicole Loughan. At the time I really enjoyed the book, set in both the swamps of Louisiana and the City of New York. There were some issues with it, without a doubt. Nicole is a journalist first and foremost, and her first foray into a non-fiction work of mystery was rough, but showed exceptional promise.
Since that time, I have had pleasant on-line conversations with Nicole, and learned a bit about her, as well as passing along some Cajun tidbits that I thought were appropriate. Nicole, being the sweetheart she is, took my input like a true lady.
This new book set amongst the same families as her previous is far more comfortable for me. In a way, not trying as hard to handle the patois of Southern Louisiana has refreshed her book, making it more realistic and easier to read than a somewhat stiff attempt at the language of the South. One still gets some of the flavor of the Southern language and the world view, and it is more relaxed for it.
In All Saints’ Secrets Fanchon is recovering in New York from the brutal attack that she suffered at the end of the previous book. You get more insight into Fanchon in this book, learning a bit more about her and what drives her as a person. As with the other, this isn’t really a long book, and the descriptions of the bayou country still aren’t on the level of someone like James Lee Burke, but Nicole is making great strides. The language of the characters is not as stiff, and she does more description of the landscapes and the surroundings than she did before. This is a great improvement when it comes to my personal tastes. I know not everyone agrees with me, but descriptions of surroundings and people are very important to my manner of reading. I want to be able to close my eyes and see my surroundings when I am reading. Without that, a book simply doesn’t hold my attention.
This is a rather Gothic look at the Southern Mystery genre, filled with poverty, isolation, and a deep sense of family history. It is easy for me to see what is there, as that is home to me. In the last book, others, who hadn’t traveled to the area, would not have been able to see the landscape as well, should they have closed their eyes and tried. This time around, seeing Fanchon’s surroundings would be easier. There is still a bit of “stiffness” to the writing, but not anything that makes the book unreadable. Instead, I was pulled in immediately and glad to have another look at Fanchon and her story. The storyline is both clever and creative, leaving you knowing at the end that there is a follow up, but this is by no mean a cliffhanger. You could also read this book as a standalone, but I went back and read the first book again before I read this one (as I am habitualized to do) and enjoyed Secrets all the more for it.
Overall, this is a pleasant way to wile away an evening of the Gothic South, mystery, a hint of terror, and a soupcon’ of romantic thought. I look forward to the next and recommend the book to anyone who would enjoy the style.
I bought this book for myself, and didn’t receive the first one, or this one, from the author. All comments are my own thoughts.