Friday, October 17, 2008

Review: Murder in the Rue Chartres by Greg Herren

Murder in the Rue Chartres
Greg Herren

Published by Alyson Books

Reviewed by Erastes

This is the third in the series of books featuring Herren's gay security adviser and part-time detective Chanse MacLoed who lives in New Orleans. The book is set a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina and Chanse returns to his "broken city" to try and pick up the pieces of his interrupted life. He finds that the last client he met with before the Hurricane forced most of the city to flee, had been murdered the very same day he had his meeting with her.

I'm a sucker for an absorbing murder mystery and this didn't disappoint in any shape or form; Herren spins a web of intrigue in a masterful fashion, worthy of comparison to any of the "great" crime writers, spreading red herrings with glee and unwrapping the mystery at a perfect pace, leaving the reader a step behind MacLoed for the whole ride.

There is a major character in this book, one who never says a word but colours every word Herren writes: the city of New Orleans herself. Herren's love for his city shines through on the pages and his bitterness about the way the disaster was handled is very clear and quite touching.

The development of Chanse's personality, and the way he comes to terms with the death of his lover, the before and after of the hurricane, his friendships and the possibilities of his life moving along "after" are deftly handled too. I admit to not liking him a great deal, but that's all right—Herren made me care about what happened to him despite that.

If I had any quibble about the book it was the fact that Chanse didn't bother to interview a prime suspect at all, which seemed inconsistent when he'd been so through throughout, but the tale was so well told – and more intriguingly multi-layered and multi-themed, that it didn't spoil my general enjoyment of the book.

Erastes is the penname of a female author who lives in Norfolk. She specialises in gay historical fiction novels and homoerotic short stories. Her works have featured in many anthologies such as Best Gay Short Stories, Crusing, Ultimate Gay Erotica and many more, as well as in MEN magazine and Clean Sheets. Her first novel "Standish" - a gay Regency – was published in 2006 and her second novel "Transgressions" – English Civil War - will be published in April 2009 by Running Press. Her website can be found here.



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