The Levee: A Novel of Baton Rouge

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Shuman (Burial Ground ) works the familiar plot of an older man returning to his childhood community to resolve an old crime with limited success. True-crime author Colin Douglas is still haunted by his memories of a pale white form he and his teenage companions saw on a 1959 camping trip outside Baton Rouge, La. Douglas later learned that this ghostly apparition coincided with the brutal murder of Gloria Santana, the Spanish teacher at his high school. The father of one of Douglas's friends, the local doctor, who'd been having a fling with Santana, was arrested and released after the authorities concluded that one of two obvious suspects (with heavy-handed Dickensian names, Rufus Sikes and Darwin Drood) was responsible for the murder. Officially, the case was never solved. Douglas's return stirs up bad memories for those he left behind. The solution may shock some readers, but the surprise element comes at the expense of plausibility. (Mar.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Years after the fact, a true-crime writer revisits the scene of a crime to discern the truth of what he'd witnessed. Colin Douglas is 15 when it happens. With three friends, he's gone camping a few miles south of the city, near a once-lush plantation, a Mississippi River levee and a very scary cemetery. Typically hormonal, they've been bragging about their fictional successes with actual young women. When an argument breaks out, one of the boys leaves. Once he's gone long enough to cause even 15-year-olds to become less self-involved, the others go looking for him. No luck. Instead, Colin encounters . . . a ghost? A restless spirit disgorged from an ancient grave? Or something just as horrible but of more recent vintage? It's so dark, and Colin's so frightened, that he can't see or think straight. The following day everyone is shocked to learn that Gloria Santana, the lively, lovely high-school Spanish teacher, has been stabbed to death. His brush with the frightful something leaves Colin more baffled and traumatized than he can possibly understand. Forty-five years later, he returns to Baton Rouge-to research a new writing project, he tells himself, but actually to expel a nightmare. Shuman (Past Dying, 2000, etc.) presents an absorbing, well-written story undermined by one of those too-little-too-late visits from a deus ex machina that will leave many a reader grumpy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780897335836
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporate
  • Publication date: 11/28/2008
  • Pages: 230
  • Sales rank: 1,444,390
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 31, 2009

    Loved it

    I stumbled upon this book the other day at my public library and I'm so glad I did. I read it in 24 hours and couldn't put it down. It was reminisent of Pat Conroy's writing with the ability to really bring the south, in this case Baton Rouge, to life. I felt I was there with the characters, experiencing what they were experiencing. And the ending was one I never saw coming which is wonderful, since I have a tendency to guess the ending and end up disappointed. This did not disappoint. Mr. Shuman has a lyrical writing style. It immediately pulls you in. This is the first book I've read of his and will definitely pick up his others.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    Entertaining, easy read.

    I always love a mystery story. We recently moved to Baton Rouge and I work down near LSU. It was intriguing to visualize in my mind the descriptions of the area then compared it to now. I found this to be a very enjoyable read that portrayed the relationships as very realistic and possible.

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  • Posted December 30, 2008

    A fantastic read!

    An absolutely wonderful book, I could not put it down. Being that I'm from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it was neat reading about places that I'm very familiar with. This is the sixth book I've read by Mr. Shuman and I have enjoyed each and every one.

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    Posted October 30, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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