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Axeman's Jazz: A Female Sleuth, a Serial Killer, an Offbeat New Orleans Setting (The Skip Langdon Series Book 2) Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 463 customer reviews

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Length: 372 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's a steamy August in New Orleans and a murderer has borrowed the name of the Axeman, a serial killer who roamed the city in 1919. The modern-day Axeman has strangled a young woman and stabbed an elderly man, beside whose body a teddy bear is found. The letter "A" is scrawled near both corpses in lipstick and in blood. Both victims, it develops, were members of 12-point recovery programs modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous; the killer may be using the groups' anonymity as a shield. A most appealing heroine, Skip Langdon, first encountered in 1990 Edgar nominee New Orleans Mourning , is now a homicide detective assigned to the Axeman team. Risking her life, Skip must get close to suspects, among them beautiful but ditzy Di, a New Era devotee; the very angry Alex, "a walking testosterone bomb" who writes self-help books; Sonny Gerard, a stressed-out second-year medical student; and Missy, Sonny's overmothering girlfriend. With an acute ear for New Orleans speech and a sharp eye for the city's social stratification, Smith keeps the reader's heart palpitating to the end of this mystery of unusual depth, which leaves Skip in love, confident she's a good cop and triumphant over social-climbing, tradition-bound parents.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

New Orleans social-misfit Skip Langdon (New Orleans Mourning, 1990) postpones her vacation from homicide when the ``Axeman'' writes the police and taunts them about two murders he has committed. Both victims belonged to several 12-step recovery programs, so Skip and her fellow officers attend meetings, swipe membership phone lists, and finally concentrate on two group participants--Di, once up on charges for child abuse, and Alex, a randy psychiatrist once accused of assault. Another murder occurs before Skip and sharp-tongued police-shrink Cindy Lou realize that Di is being framed. By then, however, Axeman has taken Alex hostage, and the two women must talk the killer into giving himself up. Cruel swipes at 12-step concepts and an unlikely meeting between Skip and her mother at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting undercut Smith's deft skewering of southern mannerisms and standards for womanhood. Still, this is a more polished work than Mourning, and Cindy Lou a more interesting heroine than Skip. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1053 KB
  • Print Length: 372 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: booksBnimble (January 16, 2014)
  • Publication Date: January 16, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007YCEW10
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,926 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

I first knew I wanted to be a writer at seven, knew it was mysteries I'd write at 12, was desperate to win the Edgar at 13, but became a journalist to...well...keep from starving till I had the courage to actually try it. I had a great time and learned more than ten colleges could have taught as a reporter for first the New Orleans Times-Picayune and later the San Francisco Chronicle. Finally, I wrote six or seven mysteries (I've lost count!) over a period of eight years, to absolutely no avail, and was about to give up when I made my first sale. DEATH TURNS A TRICK was my first published book, and the Rebecca Schwartz series was born. I later added a second San Francisco series, plus two in New Orleans, and guess what? My first New Orleans book, NEW ORLEANS MOURNING, won the Edgar for Best Novel.

So some dreams come true! Boy, it was hard, and it took forever, but mine actually did. I'm still pinching myself. After wanting something so much and finally getting it, who would have thought I'd turn to something else after twenty-one books? (That's right, twenty-one not counting a non-fiction one on writing itself. So, twenty-two, really.) My whole identity was writing. But along came ebooks! Suddenly a gigantic opportunity opened up. I realized I could be a publisher myself---I could help other people achieve their own dreams. I couldn't help it, I got the publishing bug. Bad.

In 2010, I founded www.booksBnimble.com, a digital publishing company that focused at first on video-enhanced ebooks, but now not so much enhanced as just great quality---and, as you might imagine, with an emphasis on mysteries. So far, we've published eight authors (including me). It's been a treat to learn to function in another whole world and it's been incredibly rewarding to be able to help other writers, to bring back people's backlists, and to discover new, exciting talent.

Check out some of our terrific authors--Patty Friedmann, Marika Christian, Tony Dunbar, Anneke Campbell, Whitney Stewart, and Lee Pryor. Coming soon: mystery authors Greg Herren, Liz Zelvin, Shelley Singer, and Mickey Friedman.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Hot and hotter!
This was my first Skip Langdon novel and I loved it. Now to go back, and buy the others. Great characters you can immediately get in to. Skip is a self-deprecating delight. Strong when she needs to be, but all too human throughout the Axeman. Having mistakenly vacationed in New Orleans in August (what was I thinking?) I can say with sweaty memories, Smith puts her readers in the hot seat. And the suspects! I was sorting through them and pointing a suspicious finger at everyone. The ending was a neat little surprise package. Gritty, but not turn-off gritty. Violence only as needed. Very enjoyable.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I LOVE this series! Julie Smith has created perhaps the most credible yet fantastic protagonist in homicide in her powerful, vulnerable, fearless, and wonderfully tall female detective, Skip Langdon. In Axeman's Jazz Skip is battling a serial killer who resurrects the never-apprehended Axeman, a true criminal from New Orleans' history. Smith weaves her story around 12-step programs, where anonymity makes for good cover. She not only produces some serious suspense, but some deep psychological insights. Skip, who made her debut in Smith's Edgar Winning New Orleans Mourning, grows in her own psychological makeup, and we get more glimpses into her complex personality. Skip is a real original, and I am hooked on her and the series. Axeman's Jazz is mystery writing at its very best.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The debut novel in the Skip Langdon series, New Orleans Mourning, won the Edgar Award. That's a hard act to follow and Smith sure tries. Many of the good parts of the first book are still present -- Skip's wonderful observations of Southern manners first among them. Got a killer holding a hostage outside? The Police are meeting at your house for a strategy session. Of course you serve coffee and cookies -- Cream anyone?
Unfortunately, the Edgar also seems to have given Smith the clout to ignore her editors and this book is easily 25% longer than necessary. The fact that the killer must be among the 12 step crowd (Codependents Anonymous) and in the six assigned to Skip is determined early. We then go through endless pages without moving the mystery forward.
Bottom-line: Still a nice sense of New Orleans but slow pacing make this an optional read. Reading of New Orleans Mourning helpful but not required.
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Format: Kindle Edition
In 20th century New Orleans, the Axeman was the name given to a serial killer. The historical murderer claimed in his letters that he would not kill anyone playing Jazz music when he came by. The Axeman was never caught.

In Axeman's Jazz, two people are found strangled within a few days of each other, and a red "A" is drawn on their wall. Then the New Orleans media outlets receive a letter from someone claiming to be the Axeman. He gives the same disclaimer of sparing anyone playing jazz music.

Skip Langdon, returning from the novel New Orleans Mourning, finds herself in the middle of the investigation wading through the anonymity of self-help groups to find the serial killer.

An excellent return to New Orleans and a strong character. A definite read for Skip Langdon fans.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Opening lines:
"New Orleans could wreck your liver and poison your blood. It could destroy you financially. It could shun you or embrace you, teach you tricks of the heart you thought Tennessee Williams was just kidding about. And in August it could break your spirit."

So much for any romantic visions of New Orleans a reader might have. The "voice" belongs to Skip Langdon, ex-debutante, newly-minted homicide detective, packing for a vacation in California when a phone call sends her to a murder scene.

The call pulls Skip in three directions. A high profile murder case is good for her career. However, she must delay her trip to Los Angeles and a romantic tryst with a documentary film maker named Steve. Also, this is the night of her brother's engagement party.

Cutting short her appearance at the engagement party suits her fine. She has been at odds with her family ever since she became a cop. This novel is a police procedural but it's also about the cultural rift between generations -- the sharing, co-dependent, "recovering" generation of baby boomers, and the emotionally cruel, "pull up your socks" generation of their parents. The latter may have won a world war but they seem to know zip about raising well-adjusted families.

The murder victim is a quiet girl, a newcomer to the city. She has been strangled and the murderer used lipstick to draw a big "A" on the wall. It's an ordinary apartment, nothing fancy, and most of the books are self-help books on relationships.

Why an A" and why lipstick? Skip begins the routine questioning - landlord, neighbors, employers, ex-husbands. She works alongside her friend Joe Tarantino, now a lieutenant and head of Homicide, and Sgt. Capello, her supervisor.
Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like the first title in this series, "New Orleans Mourning," this one positively drips with atmospheric authenticity. The author sets her mystery in New Orleans in the 90s (when she wrote the book). Her cast of characters includes a Junoesque detective, exiled from an "Uptown" family, methodically sifting through clues; a film producer boyfriend; a gay landlord/lawyer; a misogynistic supervisor; and the city itself. Toss in fluid, naturalistic writing, and you'd expect a sterling read. However, the editing broke the flow enough to spoil the experience. I don't know how the print version presented itself, but the Kindle version contained multiple misspellings (which I attributed to faulty scanning) and no breaks except for chapters. Time breaks, perspective switches, and location changes did occur within chapters, but, with no extra spaces between paragraphs or wingdings, the reader often finds the narrative hard to follow until he or she realizes something has changed and backs up to find where the break should have occurred. At one of these non-breaks, someone (an editor?) actually inserted, "Shouldn't something go here?" In summary, "The Axeman's Jazz" is an excellent novel spoiled by sloppy Kindle editing. But that did not prevent me from reading the next book in the series, "Jazz Funeral."
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