Bad Karma in the Big Easy
reunites the crime-solving team of Andy Broussard, chief medical examiner of Orleans Parish in New Orleans, and his partner-in-crime (solving), psychologist Kit Franklyn. The story takes place post-Hurricane Katrina, just a few weeks after the storm, in fact. Broussard is working in St. Gabriel, LA where the temporary morgue had been set up post-storm in a series of FEMA refrigeration trucks, while Kit is called to the scene of a very odd suicide close to City Park. Broussard finds himself hung up on the bodies of three unidentified females, all found naked and in the storm debris, yet with no water in their lungs. Meanwhile, Kit is busy trying to figure out why a prominent man in the medical field who seems to have no reason to commit suicide would do such a thing. As Andy starts to learn more about one specific victim, namely that she was a surrogate mother who recently gave birth, Kit discovers that her suicide victim, Jude Marshall, was the co-owner of a facility that grows organs for young children in need of organ transplants. As the pair dig deeper on their individual cases, they start to overlap one another and discover they may have unearthed a dangerous killer when Hurricane Katrina revealed the bodies of these young girls. When Kit finds herself threatened physically by someone who feels she is getting too close to the truth, she finds a side of herself she never knew existed - a frightened one, someone who may have some regrets as to not having more roots and relationships. On the flip-side, Andy is beating himself up for missing a crucial piece of evidence and feels so downtrodden at the state of his beloved New Orleans that he becomes dead set on discovering the killer of these girls, if its the last thing he does.
Before the explosive ending, Andy, Kit and the rest of the crew including Teddy Labiche, Kit's boyfriend and alligator farmer, Phil Gatlin, NOPD detective and Broussard's lifelong best friend, and even Bubba Oustellette, from Grandma O's kitchen will have some pretty exciting adventures.
Having lived in South Louisiana all my life, I found Bad Karma in the Big Easy particularly interesting, because I remember Katrina quite clearly, even though it's been a number of years. It was a devastating time for New Orleans and, even today, the city is still rebuilding. Reading about the receding floodwaters, the sludge and debris all over the city, and especially the orange paint on the houses indicating the number of dead bodies inside just brought it all back to me. D.J. Donaldson has found a way to capture the imagery of New Orleans in a very real way and his books are really good reads. I especially enjoy the medical twists to them and I always seem to learn something new. I will say one thing though. When he spells crawfish as "crayfish," he immediately identifies himself as an outsider in bright, flashing neon lights, not unlike ones that would be found in the French Quarter. Mr. Donaldson (and his editor), for the love of God, please spell crawfish correctly. I know its minor, but, save for this little detail, I get totally immersed in the Broussard/Franklyn stories and this just pulls me out each time. Aside from that minor complaint, Bad Karma in the Big Easy is a thrilling read with some truly twisted turns. Highly recommended.