NO Quarterby Robert Asprin, Eric Del Carlo, Teresa Patterson
Fans of Robert Asprin's Dragons Luck and Dragons Wild, the
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New York Times bestselling author Robert Asprin, writing with Eric Del Carlo and Teresa Patterson, delves into the dark secrets of the New Orleans French Quarter in this suspenseful tale of ghosts and haunted dreams, voodoo and mysticism, murder and revenge, justice and unexpected courage.
Fans of Robert Asprin's Dragons Luck and Dragons Wild, the adventures of gambler/dragon Griffen McCandles, will recognize Bone, Maestro, and other denizens of NO Quarter's haunted French Quarter from their minor roles in that series of novels. Those fans who knew Bob well will recognize his fictionalized self portrait in the character of the mysterious, pool-playing swordsmaster, Maestro.
Once upon a time, before Katrina ...
After you've lived in the French Quarter for a while, you develop the cynical belief that you've seen it all ... that nothing can get to you anymore. You and your bar acquaintances tell yourselves and each other that you've gotten so used to the drunken tourist idiocy and random acts of violence ... that it doesn't bother you.
Sunshine came to New Orleans to escape her past and to catch up with her elusive dreams, but she got lost in the old city's seductive Southern nights. The tempting dark side of the French Quarter catered to her weaknesses, offering her just exactly what she desired-cheap drugs, the wrong kind of men, and the thrill of living on the edge. Alienated from her friends and in need of help, she called out to one of them ... but her message didn't get through in time.
When she tries to go it alone, she walks down the wrong street into the wrong patch of darkness and meets the brutal, bloody end to her dreams at the point of a knife.
In another city, her death might be written off as a mugging, just another statistic on the police blotter. Not so for the NOPD, to whom the safe reputation of the French Quarter is a priority, even if the victim is a waitress and not a treasured, pampered tourist. Not so for the French Quarter locals, because no matter how far she'd fallen, Sunshine was one of their own. And no mere mugger in New Orleans or any other city would have left a victim's body framed by the crude remnants of a botched Voodoo ritual, a display designed to insult the true practitioners of that religion.
To Maestro, Sunshine's death represents not only a tragedy but an obligation, because he's the one who missed responding to her call for help. A master of both the pool cue and the rapier, a man of regular habits and close secrets, he prefers keeping to the shadows-but to avenge Sunshine and to satisfy his tarnished honor, he'll risk opening his own less-than-savory past to question.
To Bone, a waiter, and his girlfriend Alex, Sunshine was family, and the pain of her savage murder is made even more crushing by their recent estrangement from her. Because of his past connection to Sunshine, and because of a bitter, public argument with her, Bone becomes a suspect in her murder. When Sunshine's ghost begins to haunt his dreams, he comes to the realization that just clearing his name won't be enough for him. Even justice won't be enough. His heart cries out for vengeance, and Alex refuses to be left out of his quest.
But what can three ordinary people do that the police can't? As fate draws Maestro, Bone, and Alex together in the hunt for the murderer, they find unlikely allies among the street people, bartenders, performers, and other denizens of the French Quarter. Their hunt leads them through the darkest corners of the Quarter, into the dangerous depths that lie beneath the benign "party-town" surface of the old city-and into shattering revelations about themselves.
Death and destruction lie in the turning of the Tarot cards, and blood will lead to blood before honor and desire are satisfied.
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Meet the Author
Robert Lynn Asprin was born in 1946. While he's written some stand-alone novels such as Cold Cash War, Tambu, and The Bug Wars, Bob is best known for his series fantasy, such as the the groundbreaking Thieves World anthologies he created with Lynn Abbey and the Myth Adventures series, often coauthored with Jody Lynn Nye. Upon his return to his beloved New Orleans French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina, Bob began work on the second book in a new series (Dragons Wild, Dragons Luck, Dragons Deal) about a young man named Griffen McCandles who finds out he is a not only a great poker player, but also a dragon. The third book in the series, Dragons Deal, completed by Jody Lynn Nye, is due out Dec. 2010. NO Quarter, written in collaboration with Eric Del Carlo and Teresa Patterson, is a spin-off related by setting and characters to the Dragons series.
Early in May of 2008, Bob went to sleep while resting and reading a Terry Pratchett novel, a sleep from which he did not awaken. His passing is mourned by his many fans and friends.
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It was with mixed feelings that I picked up 'No Quarter', the last book completed by Robert Asprin before his untimely death last May, at age 61. I have been a fan of Asprin's work since 1977, when I discovered 'The Cold Cash War'. He quickly became one of the few authors for whom I would search for something new every time I went into a bookstore. So, reading 'No Quarter' would be more than simply reading a new book by a favored author; it would also be my "good-bye" to him. The question, at that point, was would this be his valedictory, like Spencer Tracy in 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?', or his ultimate embarrassment, like Peter Sellers in 'The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu'. Let me say right here that this is a book which he can be proud of. As with most of Asprin's work over the last decade or so, 'No Quarter' was a collaborative writing effort. Eric Del Carlo and Teresa Patterson were his "partners in crime", as it were. I feel that is an appropriate way to describe their partnership because, unlike anything else written by Aspirin (that I know of), 'No Quarter' has no fantasy or science fiction elements in it. Set in New Orleans's famous French Quarter (Asprin's home for many, many years), it is a straight murder mystery (as a friend of mine put it "a hard-boiled mystery served over Easy"). Now, more books than I would care to count are set in New Orleans, both fiction and non-fiction, including "insider" books written, like this one, by residents of the French Quarter. With this specific work, however, I think that Asprin gave us a literary first. As with his creation of 'Thieves' World', the first "shared universe" specifically created for multiple authors to write within, Asprin has, for the first time (to my knowledge) set a book with no science fiction or fantasy elements in a world that he had first created for the setting of a fantasy series. With his two books in his 'Dragon's series' (his last two books written before 'No Quarter' AND, interestingly enough, his first two books written in a LONG time without any co-authors), Asprin created the French Quarter settings which he then also used as the setting for 'No Quarter'. Minor characters from the background of the 'Dragon's series' also appear in 'No Quarter', including that of Maestro (a character Asprin based on himself) moving from a walk-on role in the Dragon's books to a lead role in 'No Quarter'. While we can't really know what Asprin had planned, if he had any ideas of intertwining the two, I do believe that this is the first time a non-genre (science fiction / fantasy / horror) book has shared a universe with a genre universe. As for the book itself, I found it to be a very satisfying read. It uses first-person narrative structure, except that the narrative switches back and forth between two of the three main characters in succeeding chapters. The characters are very well developed and the mystery is compelling. The insider's view of The Quarter, of the places that only those who live there know, gives us a setting that is both familiar and unknown. The mystery itself gives you everything you need to know to work out whodunit, while, at the same time, keeping you from recognizing many of the clues so that the ending is surprising enough to reward the reader. I think that 'No Quarter' would be a worthy Edgar Award nominee. All in all, I am very happy with this book and am looking forward to readin