“The bones said death was comin’,
and the bones never lied.” – Susannah Sandlin
“Morning, ma’am. I’m looking for Tommy Mason. Is he around?” Polite and professional, that was Senior Agent Broussard.
“Lord, what’s that no-good sonofabitch done now? Wait, you ain’t a cop; you’re a game warden. “What’d he do, run over a fish?” ― Susannah Sandlin, Wild Man’s Curse
The songs, the songs, of Bayou Country. Gator’s roar and painter’s scream. Moans of the wind through the cypress trees, the sibilant slide of a body into the water. Whether gator or fishin’ boat, or the sound of a body being slid over the side. Songs and scents – and always, life goes on. Until it doesn’t.
The bayou lives on, as it has always lived, private, dark and secretive. A mystical land where the boundaries between life and death are small. Where Catholicism resides side-by-side with hoodoo, Santaria nestles down with Southern Baptist, and one is just as likely to visit a traiteur as an M.D. She is ancient, unbending, the cycle of life personified. Don’t piss-off the Hoodoo Woman, the veves, or the houngan, for magic is real in the Bayou, and the bones, they never lie.
Eva Savoie knows all about the bone, about life and death . . . and she know, in her own bones, that old man Death is coming. So she cleans her house, scrubs her floors, and sits down to die. But the Savoies have never known the pleasure of a quiet death. And Eva’s is more painful, and bloodier, than any Sovoie before. The curse will have its due, just as it has for the last three generations of Savoies, for what her grandfather did all those years ago.
Gentry Broussard, un bon garde-chasse, a Senior Enforcement Officer for the Louisiana Depart of Wildlife and Fisheries, is the one who finds Eva’s body. He even catches a glimpse of her murderer – a murderer who is, or should be, a ghost. Now, he is on the hunt for a man dead four years, and what he finds may destroy not only his life, but that of Ceelie Savoie, Eva’s niece and heir. Heir not only to Eva’s property on Whisky Bayou, but to Eva’s ability with the bones.
“Its dying call is weak but clear
Yet it’s a plaintive voice I don’t want to hear.
I won’t go back,
I won’t go home,
‘Cause next time, Whiskey Bayou won’t let me go.”
Ceelie promised her daddy on his deathbed that she would escape, and never return. But ain’t life funny that way? Now Ceelie is back in the swamp. And it may be her blood Gentry wades through this time.
Admittedly, I am a HUGE Louisiana novel lover. My favorite author of all time for the stories of the bayous, swamps and small towns has always been James Lee Burke. His soulful renditions of the voice of the land touch the soul, drawing you into the land that time forgot, the land where the curtains of civilization fade away, leaving only the truth behind. Susannah Sandlin doesn’t quite have that soul-deep ability to draw you in, to allow you to close your eyes and smell the funk of brackish water, the sweet waft of water orchid. You don’t quite see the cypress in your mind, or hear the egret’s call. But she is close. The suspense is there, the respect for the peoples and culture of the South. I look forward eagerly to Black Diamond, the next in the Wilds of the Bayou series.