Good Junk (Cliff Saint James, #2)by ED KOVACS
Critically-acclaimed author Ed Kovacs presents Book Two in his thrilling Cliff Saint James series of murder mystery crime novels set in New Orleans. Publisher’s Weekly gave Good Junk the rare honor of a starred, boxed review, calling it “outstanding,” and saying that “powerful prose elevates this above most other/em>/em>
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Critically-acclaimed author Ed Kovacs presents Book Two in his thrilling Cliff Saint James series of murder mystery crime novels set in New Orleans. Publisher’s Weekly gave Good Junk the rare honor of a starred, boxed review, calling it “outstanding,” and saying that “powerful prose elevates this above most other contemporary PI novels.” The New York Times Book Review said, “The scenes of New Orleans are rich and real.” And Steve Berry called Kovacs a “vivid addition to the thriller genre.”
Cliff Saint James, like the city of New Orleans, has taken his share of hard knocks. First there was the killer Hurricane that destroyed his hometown, ruined his mixed-martial-arts dojo, and nearly bankrupted him. A former cop, he narrowly escaped assassination at the hands of ruthless gangs while solving his first murder case as a private eye. Now after rebuilding his life, trouble has found him again.
While wrestling with guilt over having accidentally killed a mixed-martial-arts opponent in a sparring session, Saint James finds himself assisting a police investigation into the apparent suicide of a U.S. government “black projects” engineer. He and his good friend Honey, now a homicide detective, quickly realize they have murder, not suicide on their hands, and that the victim was much more than just an engineer.
As they track the killer through the brackish, steamy under belly of New Orleans, their allies become few, and their many opponents emerge as powerful international forces intent on doing anything—including killing Saint James—to maintain the status quo of a shocking conspiracy.
This revised and updated edition of Good Junk is in the time-honored tradition of works by Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Lee Child, Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammet, James Ellroy, and Dennis Lehane.
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In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina [usually just referred to as The Storm in New Orleans, Louisiana], Cliff St. James had become the most sought-after private investigator in the city. He has an extensive c.v.: Formerly with the police department, from which he had resigned, he has most recently been running a dojo in the Lower Garden District where he teaches mixed martial arts. As the book opens, it is one year after The Storm. Cliff’s life has been totally upended when he accidentally killed a 20-year-old man in a sparring session in his fight-cage ring. He is pulled out of his quagmire of self-imposed isolation and back into the real world when a NOPD homicide detective improbably named Honey Baybee, with whom he has a long and so-far platonic relationship, asks for his help in her investigation of what appears to be a murder/suicide, with the blessing of thee NOPD, as an unpaid consultant attached to the Homicide Section. What they uncover is a rather bizarre mix of arms smuggling, possible espionage, several additional murders [including a close call for our hero], with a cast of characters that comes to include several members of several branches of State and Federal law enforcement, almost too many for this reader to follow. The author knows whereof he speaks, on several different levels: He worked for many years as a private security contractor, including in New Orleans after The Storm, and is a member of the Association for Intelligence Officers. He paints a graphic portrait of the area: “. . . the ravaged city suffering from fractured infrastructure, decades of corrupt neglect, and the mostly laissez-faire attitude of a citizenry that tolerated it all.” His most indelible portrait, hwoever, is of a man both mysterious and enigmatic and, possibly, a charlatan, who goes by the name, among others, of “Decon.” The complexities of the plot were a bit much at times, but the book comes to an exciting conclusion, and in the end I came under the spell of Cliff St. James. Recommended.