Andy Broussard, New Orleans medical examiner, has a puzzle. Not the mysterious lesions in the brain of the body on his examining table, but the fact that his fingerprints are a perfect match for someone who is currently in jail at the Louisiana state prison. He persuades his former colleague, Kit Franklyn, to check out the prisoner, only she finds that not only has the prisoner died but the prison hasn’t wasted any time in cremating the body.
Things start turning nasty even before Franklyn makes it back to New Orleans, and soon both she and Andy are investigating what seems to be a deep conspiracy stretching across the state. As she goes undercover at a research laboratory and Andy investigates a second death, they both find themselves next in the firing line.
D J Donaldson has written, to date, seven books featuring Broussard and Franklyn – books 4 to 7 (this is book 6, BTW) have been released as ebooks from Astor + Blue Digital Editions, and they kindly sent me this copy to review.
To give a bit of background, Broussard is a larger than life individual. As is common with many detectives, he is severely overweight and likes his food. While this makes him sound like a stereotype, rest assured that the writer has given some thought to making him a real character rather than a caricature. Franklyn gets a little more page time and a lot more development here, as at the start of the book, she has quit her job as assistant medical examiner after a trauma – presumably at the end of the previous book. Donaldson does well at telling us enough background information to set the situation up without spoiling the earlier book – always a good sign.
As for the mystery, it’s a balance of mystery and thriller. While the twists – at least one of which caught me completely by surprise – are the focus of the plot, there are clues that lead to them. It still has more of a thriller feel to it, as, although there is a whodunit – well, more of a whosebehindit – element to the story, there aren’t many viable candidates left before the reveal. That’s not a criticism, by the way, as the thriller side of it is a great read.
There are a couple of small issues with the plot – the speed of the cremation of the body, for example – but these are minor niggles. This is an entertaining read with interesting characters and I look forward to catching up on some of the other books in the series.