Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Water Mark by J.M. Redmann

Publisher:             Bold Strokes Books

J.M. Redmann returns once again to post-Katrina New Orleans for her sixth Mickey Knight mystery.  For fans of the series the real interest may be whether or not Mickey and Cordelia get back together after what happened in the previous book.  They'll have to read this one to find out.

Just like the city, Mickey's life is a shambles and she is trying to cope with an atmosphere radically changed from what she is used to.  She stumbles into a mystery when she's hired to go to someone's house to retrieve mementoes and has to help a church group that has come as volunteers to pull houses down and instead discovers a body.  Mickey tries to solve a murder while dealing with misguided teenagers, religious conservatives and a wealthy family that is being blackmailed.  What she really wants to figure out is how to talk to Cordelia and try to see if they can mend their relationship.

Redmann makes it clear in this book that there is still a lot to be said about what Katrina did to New Orleans and the people there.  The mystery in this book isn't that mysterious, but serves rather as a vehicle to carry the rest of the story.  The real focus is on the trauma that still reverberates from that storm.  Redmann deals with the city and its people with great sympathy and the affection she feels for both pours from the pages.  For sections that are written so well, the "story" actually gets in the way and comes off as rather contrived.

Still, Jean Redmann is an extremely accomplished writer and knows how to use words with an elegance that few achieve.  She spins a mood better than most authors are capable of and it gives her books a very rich feeling.  That experience makes the book worth reading even if the mystery is somewhat weak.

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