Rampart Street

Rampart Street

3.0 8
by David Fulmer

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As the third Storyville mystery begins, Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr has just returned to New Orleans. Having only recently solved the case of the jass murders, he is drawn reluctantly into the investigation of a new murder—that of a well-to-do gentleman on seedy Rampart Street. When another wealthy society man turns up dead, the detective learns that the… See more details below


As the third Storyville mystery begins, Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr has just returned to New Orleans. Having only recently solved the case of the jass murders, he is drawn reluctantly into the investigation of a new murder—that of a well-to-do gentleman on seedy Rampart Street. When another wealthy society man turns up dead, the detective learns that the two victims were acquainted years ago. In a spider’s web of coincidence, the second murder has been witnessed—or has it?—by the man who’s now keeping Justine, Valentin’s old girlfriend, as his paramour. Valentin probes deeper even as the city’s most powerful leaders pres­sure him to drop the investigation. What could he be getting close to, and what nerves might he unwittingly strike?  David Fulmer has created a heart-pounding mystery in this, his soulful detective’s most dangerous case yet.

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
Valentin St. Cyr, the errant Creole detective who figures in this lusty, historical series set in Storyville in its sinful heyday, resurfaces in the red-light district a diminished man with "a certain hungry edge about him." Solving the murder of a rich white man who met his fate on the rough side of Rampart Street brings St. Cyr alive again, but the elegiac tone in which Fulmer views the city's fabled amusements feels sadly prescient.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
New Orleans as it once was and may never be again is the rich and poignant setting for Fulmer's latest (Chasing the Devil's Tail; Jass). After a long absence, the series hero, Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr, has returned to the red-light district of Storyville a changed man. He's skinny and apathetic; to saloon owner Tom Anderson, St. Cyr's friend and mentor, he seems haunted. Tom-Storyville's "proud monarch, lording over the madams in their grand mansions, the sporting girls in both fine upstairs rooms and dime-a-trick cribs, the rounders and gamblers and sports, the criminals petty and heeled, the saloon keepers who served them and all the other characters in Storyville's shifting cast"-attempts to re-engage St. Cyr (and see if the detective's still got his juice) by encouraging him to solve the murder of a wealthy businessman whose body has just turned up on the eponymous street, one of Storyville's meanest. St. Cyr finds himself coming alive again as he digs up troubling facts that no one, especially the police, wants him to unearth. Five more men will die and St. Cyr will be in mortal danger before justice is served. St. Cyr is a great character, and the fascinating city and its larger-than-life denizens intrigue as much as the complicated plot. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Christian Science Monitor
A bittersweet trip to New Orleans… the journey is a blues-soaked pleasure.
Library Journal
"Fulmer again blends historical figures with fictional ones in the third of his award-winning, richly atmospheric series."

Kirkus Reviews
Murder in turn-of-the-century New Orleans: sex, secrets and an array of voluptuous temptresses. Wealthy John Benedict is found murdered on Storyville's seamy Rampart Street, known for its saloons and whorehouses. Wanting a quick and quiet resolution, Tom Anderson, king of the red-light district, hires brooding Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr, recently returned to the city after solving the murders of several musicians and breaking up with his mistress Justine (Jass, 2005). Benedict's widow, his grown daughter Anne Marie and his crusty lawyer Delouche are outraged when Valentin asks questions about Benedict's private life. But Anne Marie's attraction to the forbidden Valentin works to the detective's advantage. Justine, meanwhile, languishes unhappily as a kept woman. Inevitably, the star-crossed lovers meet again when a second victim, Charles Kane, is abducted in clear sight of his friend George Reynolds, who happens to be Justine's dull lover. Valentin's bluntness and arrogance continue to rile Delouche, Anderson and racist Lieutenant Picot, but they cooperate as the bodies pile up. Anne Marie's shrewd maid Betsy also figures prominently in the puzzle, whose solution smacks more of politics than lust. St. Cyr's third case is another lukewarm mystery, but Fulmer's evocative portrait of New Orleans, as seductive and unique a century ago as yesterday, has added poignancy in light of recent events.

"Captures that sense of disorientation when someone returns to a beloved place and feels himself a stranger . Elegiac."

San Francisco Chronicle

"You can almost taste the gumbo. Fulmer's languid, conversational style perfectly matches the Crescent City."


"Historic events and racial tension power the plot. An interesting journey into the New Orleans of almost a century ago."
Detroit Free Press

"Characters are beautifully drawn with just a few words. Valentin is a hero for whom it's easy to cheer." -- Detroit Free Press

From the Publisher


"Fulmer clearly has the skills to bring any musical world alive . . . In his first two mysteries he has created a full-blooded portrait of New Orleans."--The Boston Globe

"If Fulmer has plans for future stories about St. Cyr and his real and imaginary Fourth Ward cronies, they'd be more than welcome here."--Los Angeles Times

Christian Science Monitor

A bittersweet trip to New Orleans… the journey is a blues-soaked pleasure.

"Fulmer improves with each outing in this ambience-drenched series."

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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The moment he turned the corner onto Rampart Street, he knew he was a dead man.

A shadow was moving directly in his path, a phantom in a dark duster, one arm outstretched and pointing a Navy .45. He started to say, Not me! But he only got as far as the first word when the other hand came up, the palm out, shushing him.

From down past Second Street, he heard a trumpet blowing, a slow run of dirty brass. Jass they called it. He fixed on that odd word for a moment, seeking escape. Then he was back facing the pistol, feeling its ghostly touch over twelve feet of space.

He had lived for years with the fear that someone would come for him. He had paid in sleepless nights. He had seen a shady figure in his dreams, stepping out of a darkness just like this one. It wasn't fair. He wasn't the villain; he was the one who wanted to set things right.

He was blurting "Damn your-" when the pistol shouted and the .45 slug caught him under the chin, snapping his head back and choking off the words in a bloody cough. The shot echoed down Rampart Street as he staggered and toppled over, clutching at his throat, his life bleeding out to seep around the cobblestones.

The shadow faded back into the inky New Orleans night. Across the narrow street, a curtain opened, hung suspended for a moment, and then closed.

One minute passed in silence. It lingered into a second, then a third. The stream of blood ran to the gutter, a feast for the flies at the first light of day.

There was a patter of footsteps, rat quick, from the far side of the street. A crabbed figure bent over the body, rustling through pockets, pulling the heavy piece from the right-hand ring finger. When the wedding band wouldn't budge from the left hand, a blade flashed on its way to dismembering the digit and the ring that wrapped it above the knuckle.

But before the job could be done, a trio of men appeared, the last dregs flushed out onto the street from Johnny O's Saloon, hooting drunkenly as they staggered up to the corner. In the one-two-three order of a vaudeville routine, they came to a stop. Their mouths dropped and six bleary eyes swam over to the body lying in the street and the other form that was bending over it.

One of the drunks, finding his voice, yelled, "Hey, now!"

The crabbed figure jerked back and scurried away just as fast as he'd come. The three fellows slowed to a series of nervous baby steps as they drew up on the body. The first one saw the ugly hole in the victim's throat and said, "Sweet Jesus! Look at that!"

A stunned few seconds passed, and then the fellow who had spoken up went stumbling back to the call box that was mounted on the light post, just down Rampart Street.

Copyright © 2006 by David Fulmer

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc.,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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