From Publishers Weekly
Heck takes a colorful city (New Orleans) and a colorful character (Mark Twain), adds a murder, a duel, some voodoo and period detail and conjures up an entertaining sequel to his debut, Death on the Mississippi. As told by Wentworth Cabot, Twain's secretary and the Connecticut Yankee of the title who plays Watson to Twain's Holmes, this second Twain adventure finds the irascible writer in New Orleans on a lecture tour that's an attempt to recover financial health. Author George Washington Cable, one of several historical characters making an appearance, enlists Twain's detective skills to prove innocent a black cook imprisoned for the fatal poisoning of his employer. To Twain, this task means proving someone else guilty, since there is a large presumption of guilt operating against the cook, Leonard Galloway. The dead man's wealthy friends and relatives comprise a likely list of suspects. With the aid of Cabot and Cable, jazz trumpet legend Buddy Bolden (before he won fame) and the voodoo woman, Eulalie Echo, Twain puzzles out the solution. But not before giving the reader an enjoyable tour of 1890s New Orleans restaurants, bars, Jackson Square and Garden District homes, along with a look at the infamous Parish Prison. Twain can take a bow for his performance here, with readers assured that Heck will give him a chance for an encore.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Samuel L. Clemens and his secretary, Wentworth Cabot, travel to New Orleans as part of a lecture tour. In the French Quarter, they meet another writer, George Washington Cable, who becomes incensed when a black man of his acquaintance, who also happens to be an excellent cook, is accused of poisoning his wealthy employer. Clemens recently solved a crime aboard the steamboat that brought them downriver (Death on the Mississippi
) but is reluctant to investigate another. However, after the Clemens-Cabot team visits Leonard Galloway (the accused) at the old Parish Prison, the two come away convinced of his innocence and determinedly pursue the case. Mark Twain's powerful reputation opens doors and garners assistance from a police detective, an influential voodoo woman, a notorious saloon owner, a criminal court judge, and the deceased man's butler. One word of caution: try not to start this novel on an empty stomach. It will have you craving gumbo, finely seasoned pompano, and pecan pie as this Crescent City mystery simmers. Jennifer Henderson