New York Times best-selling author Robert Asprin, writing with Eric Del Carlo and Teresa Patterson, delves into the dark secrets of the New Orleans French Quarter in this suspenseful tale of ghosts and haunted dreams, voodoo, mysticism and swords, murder and revenge, justice and unexpected courage.
Fans of Robert Asprin's Dragons Luck books, the adventures of gambler/dragon Griffen McCandles, will recognize Bone, Maestro, and other denizens of NO Quarter's haunted French Quarter from their minor roles in that series. Those fans who knew Bob well will recognize his fictionalized self-portrait in the character of the mysterious, pool-playing swordsmaster, Maestro.
Once upon a time, before Katrina....
Sunshine came to New Orleans to escape her past and to catch up with her elusive dreams, but she got lost in the old city's seductive Southern nights. The tempting dark side of the French Quarter catered to her weaknesses, offering her just exactly what she desired - cheap drugs, the wrong kind of men, and the thrill of living on the edge. Alienated from her friends and in need of help, she called out to one of them...but her message didn't get through in time. When she tries to go it alone, she walks down the wrong street into the wrong patch of darkness and meets the brutal, bloody end to her dreams at the point of a knife.
In another city, her death might be written off as a mugging, just another statistic on the police blotter. Not so for the NOPD, to whom the safe reputation of the French Quarter is a priority, even if the victim is a waitress and not a treasured, pampered tourist. Not so for the French Quarter locals, because no matter how far she'd fallen, Sunshine was one of their own. And no mere mugger in New Orleans or any other city would have left a victim's body framed by the crude remnants of a botched voodoo ritual, a display designed to insult the true practitioners of that esoteric religion.
To Maestro, Sunshine's death represents not only a tragedy but an obligation, because he's the one who missed responding to her call for help. A master of both the pool cue and the rapier, a man of regular habits and close secrets, he prefers keeping to the shadows - but to avenge Sunshine and to satisfy his tarnished honor, he'll risk opening his own less-than-savory past to question.
To Bone, a waiter, and his girlfriend Alex, Sunshine was family, and the pain of her savage murder is made even more crushing by their recent estrangement from her. Because of his past connection to Sunshine, and because of a bitter, public argument with her, Bone becomes a suspect in her murder. When Sunshine's ghost begins to haunt his dreams, he comes to the realization that just clearing his name won't be enough for him. Even justice won't be enough. His heart cries out for vengeance, and Alex refuses to be left out of his quest.
But what can three ordinary people do that the police can't? As fate draws Maestro, Bone, and Alex together in the hunt for the murderer, they find unlikely allies among the street people, bartenders, performers, and other denizens of the French Quarter. Their hunt leads them through the darkest corners of the Quarter, into the dangerous depths that lie beneath the benign "party-town" surface of the old city-and into shattering revelations about themselves.
Death and destruction lie in the turning of the Tarot cards, and blood will lead to blood before honor and desire are satisfied.
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