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Wild Man’s Curse: A Wilds Of The Bayou Novel (Book 1) Susannah Sandlin

wmc“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.


Review: Voodoo on Bayou LaFonte

Voodoo on Bayou Lafonte by Susan C. Muller“No evil ever came from a woman’s womb that wasn’t placed there first by a man.’… Tantie Neptune, Lucifer’s Key by Charles A. Cornell”
― Charles A. Cornell

Evil is such a simple thing. Insidious. Creeping silently on feet of fog, twisting into the home. The heart. The mind and soul. Evil. Darkness walking, talking. It slips along in the night, struts boldly through the light of day. Christians cry, Muslims mourn… but for the followers of Voodoo? Blood rains. Chicken blood. Human blood. All the same, the same, the same. Voodoo worships life, worships health and wellbeing.

Until the darkness comes.

And with the darkness, Papa changes, turns.

Popular media would have you see Papa Legba as a baby-eating, cocaine snorting monster, American Horror Story style. Nothing could be further from the truth. Papa is the guide, the communicator, speaking to the living and the dead – the guardian of the gates to Heaven. No Lwa Baron Samedi, Papa is kind. Until, as with the Christian Devil, He is twisted, changed, darkened . . .

“We used to know we were stronger than the devil”– Amiri Baraka

Image of the Veve of Papa LegbaThe Dark Voodoo reigns in Voodoo on Bayou LaFonte. The swamps have always been dark and dangerous, filled with things that go bump in the night. Things that roar, and grunt, and swallow the unwary. But now, a darker thing creeps about. A ‘thing’ that steals Remy Steinberg’s child. And if Remy, a Houston police officer, is to get her back before the unthinkable happens, he must overcome his (well earned) terror of the swamps.

I am impressed by Susan C. Muller. A Texan, she paid attention to the meanings behind Voodoo, not falling into the “If I don’t understand it, it is evil” mindset. VoBlF has a paranormal bent, but not overwhelmingly so. Instead, it is a study in the ubiquitous banality of evil. Of the monotony of ignorance and inbreeding, and the dreary predictability of avarice. I haven’t read a lot of good books lately, just because I haven’t gotten off my backside and searched them out. (Easily distracted much? Yep.) But Muller has encouraged me to move away from my ‘book slump’ and get back to reading.

If you are at all interested in a good book with a touch of voodoo, a dollop of Louisiana, and a strong insight on just how screwed up being poor in the US can be – read it. I really liked pretty much everything about it.

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