Casting Bones: A Quentin Archer Mystery by Dan Bruns (Seven House Publishers, $29.99, 256 pages)
Dark, Darker, Darkest
Don Bruns is the author of 12 previous novels, five in the Mike Sever Caribbean mystery series and seven Lesser and Moore mysteries. Casting Bones is the first Quentin Archer mystery, and Bruns fans or crime readers should not only read Bones but look forward to the next several offerings.
Archer is a New Orleans cop, exiled from Detroit for pushing the envelope to find the truth. In Bones, old habits die hard. Archer finds himself mired in – and inserts himself into, a tangled web of evil that extends to some of the richest power brokers in Louisiana.
Still reeling from his wife’s death, Archer has a partner he doesn’t trust (for good reason), forces that are breathing down on him to get a conviction, truth be damned (a common theme in many crime novels), and – for grins – a Voodoo Queen, Solpange Cordray, both advising and protecting him. Cordray makes for an interesting good luck charm, and Archer needs one.
The Krewe Charbonerrie is a secret society – essentially a mafia of rich, white people established to preserve and advance the power and affluence and influence of the privileged few. Cordray tips Archer that the Krewe is likely connected to the death of a judge, and – multiple murders later, with his life on the line, Archer must connect the dots. He must also be the lone voice of integrity in a sea of dishonesty and criminal collusion.
Bones manages to naturally introduce many characters and plot twists that are all plausible and unforced. The New Orleans Chamber of Commerce may not exactly be pleased with this novel; there is not much sunlight present in this portrayal of post-Katrina New Orleans.
As might be expected, Archer steps up and does his part, but as the novel comes to a close, clues to his dysfunctional family’s past and questions about his wife’s death continue to haunt him. It is suggested that Cordray’s special powers will be needed to guide him in his quest for justice. Loose ends thus linger upon the conclusion of Bones. And thus the stage is set for Bones II.
Mystery lovers should be eager to find out what happens next. Especially as Bruns is extremely adept at spinning a fascinating yarn.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Dave Moyer is a school superintendent in Illinois. He is the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.