New Orleans’s plump and proud chief medical examiner, Andy Broussard, and his gorgeous assistant, criminal psychologist Kit Franklyn, set off to investigate a series of violent murders. Examination of the victims leads to the discovery that each has the throat ripped out: with a garden fork and something unrecognizablesomething no man could have made. ‘Blood on the Bayou’ is written in Donaldson’s unique style: A hard-hitting, punchy, action-packed prose that’s dripping with a folksy, decidedly southern, sense of irony. Add in Donaldson’s brilliant first-hand knowledge of forensics and the sultry flavour of New Orleans, and the result is first class forensic procedural within an irresistibly delectable mystery.
About the Author
Donald (Don) Jay Donaldson, who also writes as David Best, was born in 1940 and is a now retired professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology. He holds a Ph.D. in human anatomy and his entire academic career was spent at the University of Tennessee, Health Science Center, where he published dozens of papers on wound-healing, and taught microscopic anatomy to thousands of medical and dental students.
He lives in Memphis, Tennessee with his wife and two West Highland terriers. In the spring of most years he simply cannot stop buying new flowers and other plants for the couple’s prized backyard garden.
He is the author of five medical thrillers and seven forensic mysteries, the latter featuring the hugely overweight and equally brilliant New Orleans medical examiner, Andy Broussard, and his gorgeous psychologist sidekick, Kit Franklyn. Of these it has been said that they contain ‘lots of Louisiana color, pinpoint plotting and two highly likable characters’, whilst the Los Angeles Times states ‘the autopsies are detailed enough to make Patricia Cornwell fans move farther south for their forensic fixes ….. splendidly eccentric local denizens, authentic New Orleans and bayou backgrounds’.
Read an Excerpt
Blood on the Bayou
By D. J. Donaldson
Astor + Blue EditionsCopyright © 2014 Don Donaldson
All rights reserved.
Dawn was more than three hours away. Under cover of darkness, a sheet of thin gray clouds had crept over the city, bringing with it a steady drizzling rain. A rat with water drops glistening on its fur like crystal pearls stood on the curb at the deserted corner of Canal and Rampart as though waiting for the light to change. Behind it, water gurgled down a copper drainpipe on the side of the Maison Blanche building and spread over the sidewalk. Overhead, in a gray metal box, traffic-light relays clicked and tripped as busily as they had at rush hour. In numbers surrounded by a hazy wet halo, the illuminated marquee on the First American Bank alternately gave the time and temperature to no one. Abruptly, the rat turned and scuttled into the shadows. Seconds later, a silent ambulance sped by, its lights turning.
Across the Mississippi, in an antique bed equipped with extra slats to support his great bulk, Andy Broussard, chief medical examiner for Orleans Parish, sucked in air and blew it out in rhythmic contentment. Broussard was traveling. He was between his own sheets, but he was also in Brussels, seated at a long table covered with an immaculate white tablecloth. Spread before him were all his favorites: tiny whole lamb's tongues in a gossamer herb sauce; a mousse of Ardennes ham served in china thimbles with little spoons; sea urchins stuffed with mussels, scallops, and roe; slim trout fillets steamed in cream and arranged around a delicate spinach custard. He reached out with his fork for a small piece of calves' brains dusted with flour, and everything disappeared in the jangle of his telephone.
His small hand emerged from the bedclothes and groped over the nightstand. "Broussard," he muttered into the receiver. He listened quietly as the voice on the other end dispassionately recited the address where he was needed. "On my way," he said, hanging up.
He threw his legs over the edge of the bed and stood up in one continuous motion. Noticing the rain on his bedroom window, he grunted unhappily and padded into the bathroom, where he combed his unruly gray hair with his fingers and sent his toothbrush on a quick trip over his small, even teeth. Back in the bedroom, he cycled by the glass bowl of lemon drops on his dresser and popped one into each cheek.
The closets of most fat men contain two sets of clothes, one for the size the owners are, the other for the size they used to be or wish they were. The clothes in Broussard's closet all fit him perfectly. Not wanting the lifeless victim that awaited him to lie in the rain a second more than was necessary, he omitted his usual bow tie while dressing.
After putting on his yellow rain slicker and grabbing his bag, he went out through the kitchen to his gymnasium-like garage and turned on the lights, setting the timer for five minutes. Stretching before him was a row of mint-condition 1957 T-Birds, each of the six a different color, all with the original paint. From the moment he saw that it was raining, he knew he would be taking the red one, because it was the only one that was already dirty.
Princess, his Abyssinian cat, was asleep in her basket by the door. She had a little food left in her bowl, but not enough to last the day if he should get tied up and not make it back until evening. As he added to her food from the bag nearby, her whiskers twitched but she didn't open her eyes.
Never a simple matter to get behind the wheel of such a small car, the extra fabric of even a rain slicker made the chore more difficult than usual. Nevertheless, he was out of the garage a full two minutes before the lights went out.
There were practically no cars on the road and he had the eight-lane Mississippi River bridge nearly all to himself, an exhilarating feeling considering how often he had sat on it mired in traffic. The dispatcher had given him an address on Royal. Since Royal was a one-way street running in the wrong direction, he went down Burgundy and cut over to Royal on St. Philip. With the twisting blue lights of a police car and the orange lights of an ambulance raking the buildings on each side of the narrow street, it wasn't hard to tell he'd come to the right place.
He parked at the end of the block and struggled out of the car. Seeing that the drizzle had let up, he shucked off his slicker, put it on top of the car, and went around to the passenger side to get his bag, the humidity already pressing in on him.
The police cruiser was sitting angled in the street, so that the small entourage on the sidewalk was illuminated by its lights. Through its open windows, the two-way radio under the dash spit a guttural message into the night air.
"Shots fired at Sixteen-twenty Poydras ... units eighteen and twenty-four ... please respond."
Broussard took a deep breath. The lights and the radio, the apprehension before he saw the victim — it was all terrible and wonderful, and the old medical examiner's blood began to hum.
His eyes darted over the scene. Down to his left, wearing one of those flimsy raincoats that fold up into a package you can put in your shirt pocket, Lt. Phil Gatlin, ranking homicide detective in the NOPD, was measuring the distance from an open umbrella in the gutter to a gold lamé purse lying on a sidewalk grate. Over him, holding a flashlight on the tape, was a uniform, a thin guy with a round little paunch that pulled at the buttons on his crisp blue shirt. Broussard thought his name was Cavenaugh. The uniform's partner, a young blond fellow whom Broussard had never seen before, was on the other end of Gatlin's tape.
Shifting his eyes to the right, Broussard saw Ray Jamison, the homicide photographer, squatting at the head of a body lying in a dark ocean of blood. Thankful for the awning, which not only prevented loss of some of the evidence that would allow him to fix the time of death but also protected the unfortunate victim from further indignities by the weather, Broussard stepped onto the sidewalk and lost sight of everything in the flash of Jamison's Polaroid.
As the blinding ripples of light behind Broussard's eyes died away, Jamison stood up and let his camera dangle against his chest. "I'm too old to squat like that," he said, swinging his left leg back and forth at the knee. "How you doing?"
"I been better," Broussard said, staring at the body. "You?"
"Nose to the wheel. 'Asses and elbows,' as they say."
Broussard put his bag down at the edge of the pooled blood, opened it, and took out a padded kneeling block. "Scuse me, Ray. I need your spot." Taking the photographer's place, Broussard looked down into the cold, unseeing eyes of what used to be a young woman. She was wearing pink shorts and a pink tube top that had been pulled down nearly to her waist. Both had dark blotches of blood spreading into the fabric like some sort of grisly camouflage. Her arms were lying palms up, each at a forty-five-degree angle to the body. The blood on the parts of them he could see was smeared. Her right leg was cocked at the knee, so her ankle lay under her left calf. Except for several red spirals around each thigh, her legs were unbloodied.
In the raking beam from the police cruiser's headlights, he could see bits of everted flesh poking out of her blood-covered torso in dozens of places. His eyes traveled over the body, measuring ... sorting ... moving quickly until they settled on the gaping crater in her neck.
Death has many forms, but its repertoire is not limitless. Thus, it had been years since Broussard had run across a case that did not already have a mental pigeonhole waiting. But now, despite the poor lighting and long before he would say so aloud, he believed this one was different; this was something new. Yet if he had been listening, he might have heard the small voice within, whispering that this was not something new. It was old ... very old. And softer even than the whisper was an old warning: Never go ...
"So you finally got here," Gatlin growled.
"Main course always comes after the hors d'oeuvres," Broussard said, slipping easily into repartee he really didn't feel.
Gatlin's heavily lined face showed every month of his long career. In the unflattering light, his cauliflowered nose seemed enormous. "I swear this one gets me where I live."
"No argument there. Don't suppose you've got a suspect?"
"Not one I could show you, but he might've left his card over here." Gatlin pointed to the sidewalk a few feet from the body, and they moved over for a look.
Near the pale edge of the beam from the cruiser's lights was a single perfect footprint outlined in blood. "Probably an athletic shoe," Gatlin said.
"And fairly new, judgin' from the sharpness of the pattern," Broussard added.
"Triangles and squares," Gatlin said. "Should be easy enough to figure out the brand."
"Let's hope not."
"Why? ... Oh, yeah. Easy to figure out means a popular brand and a million suspects."
"How do you know it wasn't made by somebody just passing by?" Jamison said.
"Unlikely," Gatlin replied. "Most people wouldn't come close enough to get blood on their shoes."
"A bum then, three sheets to the wind."
"No, Phillip's right," Broussard said. "It was the killer that left it. See those drops of blood beside the footprint?"
Jamison bent down for a closer look.
"The body's full of puncture wounds, which means whatever the weapon was, it came away covered in blood. Those drops are from the weapon. And since that's a right shoe and the drops are on the right side —"
"He's right-handed," Gatlin said. "Great. A million right-handed suspects. Now we're getting somewhere."
Broussard looked back at the victim. "Speakin' of gettin' somewhere, you through with her?"
"Yeah, go ahead," Gatlin said. He looked at Jamison. "Ray, get some shots of the umbrella and the purse. And one of her heels is stuck in that grate. Get that, too."
Broussard put his padded block on the sidewalk and knelt on it. He took a penlight from his shirt pocket and played it in the victim's eyes. "What time you got?" he asked, looking up.
Gatlin pushed up the sleeve of his raincoat and tilted his wrist into the cruiser's headlights. "Three-forty."
"Consider her pronounced," Broussard said, getting to his feet.
Gatlin wrote the time in the small spiral pad where he had already sketched the scene and entered the measurements he'd taken.
The sidewalk was slightly slanted toward the street and most of the blood had run in that direction. Staying on the side of the body nearest the building, Broussard moved down and knelt beside the legs.
Seeing that Broussard would now be looking into the cruiser's lights, Gatlin stepped into the street and stood in front of them. As he whistled at one of the uniforms, a large drop of water from the awning hit the back of his head and ran down his neck. "Cavenaugh, bring your light over here."
Broussard raised the victim's leg that had been kept off the gore-soaked sidewalk by the opposite ankle, and bent it at the knee. He took the flashlight from Cavenaugh and examined the skin on the thigh and calf, making a sound that resembled a cat purring. After gently lowering her leg, he took a wooden applicator stick from the pocket protector in his shirt and drew it through the blood in which the body lay. He got to his feet and sent the beam of his flashlight up the brick and glass storefront. Then he handed the flashlight back to Cavenaugh and took out a little black book and a pen.
While Broussard made notes, Gatlin went back to the sidewalk grate. "Ray, you through with this?" he asked, pointing at the purse.
"Wait, lemme get one more, close-up."
Gatlin looked away from the camera flash, then pulled a pair of white gloves from the pocket of his raincoat and slipped them on. He picked up the purse and carried it to the cruiser, motioning for Cavenaugh's partner to follow. In the light from the uniform's flashlight, he turned the bag upside down on the hood. An assortment of objects clattered onto the car and stayed put, but a lipstick bounced once and hit the hood rolling. Evading Gatlin's gloved palm, which banged down a fraction of a second behind it, the lipstick rolled to the front of the car and tumbled down the grill, the delicate sound making the circumstances seem even more grievous.
As the uniform bent to pick up the lipstick, Gatlin grabbed his arm. By way of explanation, he wiggled his gloved fingers in front of the cop's eyes, then retrieved it himself. In addition to the runaway lipstick, the bag contained a compact, a pink comb, an accordion file of credit cards, a tin of Tic Tac, two Trojans with reservoir tip, and a change purse with a fat roll of bills inside.
"Wasn't robbery," Gatlin said, stating aloud what he'd already known when he first saw the unopened purse lying on the grate.
"How much longer 'fore we can get movin'?"
Gatlin looked across the hood of the cruiser into the questioning face of the ambulance driver.
"You'll get outta here when we're through," Gatlin explained with exaggerated patience.
The driver raised both palms in a warding-off gesture and backed away. "Maybe next time you could, like, call us a little later."
Gatlin took a deep breath.
"Just a thought," the driver said, retreating a little more quickly.
Gatlin picked up the accordion file and let it unravel. In it was a Minnesota driver's license. "Paula Lyons," he said reverently. "Better she stayed in Minnesota." Tucked in one of the plastic sleeves was a check stub from a titty bar a few blocks away. He gathered everything up, put it back in the purse, and set the purse on the hood. "Bag that, will you?" he said to the uniform. "Then put it on the seat of my car. Bags are in the glove compartment. And use these." He stripped off the gloves and handed them over.
Then he walked back to Broussard. "How long you figure she's been dead?"
"Corneas are clear, no rigor yet, blood on the sidewalk thickening but not crusted ... couple hours, tops."
"All the action take place here?"
"No doubt about that. Livor is consistent with the position of the body and that blood up there is right."
They both looked at the blood speckling the white A and N on the word ANTIQUES painted across the storefront's plate-glass window. "Too high for spatter," Broussard said. "More likely cast off. Which means it wasn't a knife."
"You don't think a knife could have done that on the upswing?"
Broussard took a small evidence envelope and a scalpel out of his bag and scraped some of the dried blood from the window into it. "Gonna have it typed to be sure?" Gatlin asked.
"You wouldn't be after my job, would you?"
"Nah. Couldn't afford the cut in pay."
"She have an ID?"
"Driver's license said she was Paula Lyons. Also found a check stub from Tasha's, probably a dancer from the look of her."
"Guess you can forget robbery."
Gatlin nodded. "Somebody with a grudge, jilted lover, maybe."
Though neither said anything about it, both men felt a deep sense of foreboding about the brutality of the attack and what that could mean.
Gatlin looked back down the sidewalk toward the umbrella. "Whoever it was, she saw him coming and knew it was trouble. Dropped everything and tried to get away." He turned back to Broussard. "Did he do her?"
"When'd you ever know me to be able to answer a question like that on the scene?"
Gatlin shrugged. "Thought you might've learned a new trick or two since I last saw you."
"Do I sense that our time has come?" the ambulance driver said sarcastically from over Gatlin's shoulder.
Gatlin deferred to Broussard. "Andy?"
"In a minute."
Broussard got two large brown evidence bags and a couple of rubber bands from his forensic kit. Carefully, he slipped a bag on each of the victim's hands and secured them with the rubber bands.
"Now you can have her."
The two men in white tried not to walk in the blood while they lifted the dead girl and deposited her in a body bag on a folding gurney.
Overhead, the sky rumbled.
"How long before you can tell me the weapon?" Gatlin asked.
If it had been a garden-variety murder, like those that occurred at the rate of about two a day with relentless regularity, Broussard would have caught a few more hours sleep and picked up the case around nine o'clock. But with this one, that was impossible. "Call me in an hour."
On his way back to his car, the sky rumbled again and Broussard's stomach answered. He took a lemon ball from his pants pocket, separated it from some lint, and slipped it into his cheek. From all indications, it was going to be one lousy day.
Excerpted from Blood on the Bayou by D. J. Donaldson. Copyright © 2014 Don Donaldson. Excerpted by permission of Astor + Blue Editions.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The story starts with Andy Broussard getting an early morning call from the police. A body has been found. It looks like the throat has been ripped out. To find the killer, Andy ends up returning to his hometown. Kit Franklyn has been kicking around the idea of quitting and moving to be with her boyfriend. When she meets Teddy she starts to reconsider moving. It seems that someone is suffering from lycanthropy, being a werewolf. That they are tearing out the throats of their victims. Now Andy and Kit are on a race of time to try and stop the killer before the body count adds up. I love DJ Donaldson’s Andy Broussard and Kit Franklyn mysteries. I have read several books in the series but not in order. It was a nice treat to see how Kit meets Teddy, he’s one of the characters that I think just adds that little bit to the story. Of course how can you not like Andy? He is obsessed with food, which is shown in his size, and he is almost like Sherlock Holmes when it comes to deduction. The story is really good and, like with all of the books I have read in this series, I didn’t know who the killer was until at the end. My only complaint would be Kit. She gets herself into trouble with her bad decisions. Although she is Andy’s counter part and smart in her own sense, she just seems to keep falling into situations that she needs to be rescued from. I do get frustrated with her. If you like mysteries, be sure to check out Blood on the Bayou or the other books in this series. I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
All the books in this New Orleans mystery series are great. I'm from that city, and Donaldson nails the accents, the eccentric characters, the locations, all of it. And he's apparently not greedy -- the NOOK books are $4.99.
I enjoy books by DJ Donaldson. As an author he builds his characters to a full person and in his series readers better understand a character that is not necessarily the "norm". He builds the story fast and does have a few red herrings to make it even more fun. I Highly recommend this book and all others in the series. Each book in the series can be read alone, but I always enjoy the character building and the particular world he develops.
Book number two of this series for me and well worth it. I love Dr. Broussard's ability to see "everything." Kit is coming along and beginning to notice more. Again this has an unusual topic bordering on the supernatural. I am also glad to note Kit is going to get away from her old boyfriend for someone better. The ending is sad however it seems to be fitting considering the characters involved and their emotions regarding the many tragedies that occurred.
Good flowing story. I enjoyed it except the ending was unbelievable and almost ruined the story for me.