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New Orleans Mourning: #1, Skip Langdon Mystery Series (The Skip Langdon Series) [Kindle Edition]

Julie Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (386 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99

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Book Description

Winner of the 1991 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel and the FIRST mystery in the highly acclaimed Skip Langdon series, New Orleans Mourning falls deliciously between the psychological suspense of Laura Lippman and the delicate drama of Tennessee Williams.

"Murder at the Mardi Gras and the flavor of New Orleans ... Old secrets are highlighted in this wonderful story that is as filled with topical information as it is with a great story about murder and history. Smith writes with authority about her city." -Ocala Star Banner

"Smith is a gifted writer." –Washington Post Book World

It's Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and civic leader and socialite Chauncy St. Amant has been crowned Rex, King of Carnival. But his day of glory comes to an abrupt and bloody end when a parade-goer dressed as Dolly Parton guns him down. Is the killer his aimless, promiscuous daughter Marcelle? Homosexual, mistreated son Henry? Helpless, alcoholic wife Bitty? Or some unknown player? Turns out the king had enemies...

Enter resourceful heroine Skip Langdon, a rookie police officer and former debutante turned cynic of the Uptown crowd. Scouring the streets for clues, interviewing revelers and street people with names like Jo Jo, Hinky, and Cookie, and using her white glove contacts, the post-deb rebel cop encounters a tangled web of brooding clues and ancient secrets that could mean danger for her—and doom for the St. Amants.

Langdon, with her weight worries, insecurities, and yet overall toughness has long been a favorite of those who like their female sleuths bold, smart, and refreshingly human.

“Smith finds secrets and potential in nearly all corners of New Orleans.” –NPR

"Julie Smith writes like jazz should sound—cool, complex, and penetrating right to the heart.” -Val McDermid, best-selling author of the Tony Hill series

"Though her plot careens with as many twists and turns as a car chase through the French Quarter, it is Smith's rotating focus on the complex viewpoints of her fully formed characters that gives her sixth novel its psychological and emotional depth ... [A] rich, tightly structured narrative." -Publishers Weekly

Fans of Ace Atkins, Tana French, Sue Grafton, and Marcia Muller will love Skip Langdon’s pluck and charm.

Excerpt:
There he was—the King of Carnival, Rex himself, the Monarch of Mirth, all in gold and positively exuding noblesse oblige. Despite all the fancy sobriquets, he was known to his intimates as plain Chauncey St. Amant. He was a well-padded gentleman, like most New Orleanians of a certain age, and he was in his element playing Old King Cole the merry old soul. Skip hoped his arm wouldn't fall off from too much waving. She'd known him since her rubber pants days.

He looked up and waved at someone on one of the balconies. Automatically, Skip's gaze followed his. The float was just parallel to the balcony, one she knew well. Today it was draped with Mardi Gras bunting—purple, green, and gold. The single occupant standing on it was dressed as Dolly Parton in cowgirl finery.

Dolly had on her trademark curly wig, a red satin sequined blouse, blue satin skirt, fawn gloves, balloons in her bodice, and two-gun holster. She had on a white mask with eye shadow in three colors and sequined rouge spots. As Chauncey waved, she drew one of her six-shooters. She twirled the gun, clowning, and pointed it, leaning on the balcony. Not very amusing to a cop, but Chauncey was appreciative enough to throw her a doubloon. And then he fell off his throne.

The band in front of the float was playing "When the Saints Go Marching In," so Skip never heard the shot. All she knew was that one moment Chauncey was admiring Dolly and the next minute he was down on the floor of the float. Knowing instantly what had happened, Skip started to draw her own gun, but there wasn't a chance.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It's Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and after spending most of his life trying to reach high society, Chauncy St. Amant has been crowned Rex, King of Carnival. But his day of glory comes to an abrupt and bloody end when a party-goer dressed as Dolly Parton guns him down. Skip Langdon, a rookie police officer and former debutante turned cynic of the uptown crowd, is assigned to the case. Scouring the streets for clues, interviewing revelers and street people with names like Jo Jo, Hinky and Cookie, and using her white glove contacts, the post-deb rebel cop comes up with a motive for murder that surprises even herself. New Orleans Mourning won the 1991 Edgar Award for best mystery novel.

From Publishers Weekly

Though her plot careens with as many twists and turns as a car chase through the French Quarter, it is Smith's rotating focus on the complex viewpoints of her fully formed characters that gives her sixth novel its psychological and emotional depth. On Mardi Gras, civic leader and socialite Chauncey St. Amant is about to be crowned Rex, King of Carnival, when someone costumed as Dolly Parton shoots him dead from his best friend's balcony overlooking the parade. Is the killer aimless, promiscuous daughter Marcelle? Homosexual, mistreated son Henry? Helpless, alcoholic wife Bitty? Female rookie cop Skip Langdon uncovers a cast of intriguing characters, all as much Chauncey's victims as they are suspects in his murder, most of them inhabiting a "poison garden of corruption" and substance abuse where it's not just on Mardi Gras that everyone wears a mask. Praised for the local color she delivered in Huckleberry Fiend and Tourist Trap (set in San Francisco), Smith has researched the Big Easy exhaustively. While she does not paint its hues or diffuse its smells as vividly as she dissects its social strata, review getting wordy, tho well written/mc her rich, tightly structured narrative more than compensates.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 561 KB
  • Print Length: 351 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: booksBnimble (December 29, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007W97WJY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,457 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New Orleans High and Low July 29, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Skip Langdon can never be called your every-day cop/heroine. She is a 6-ft. mass of insecurities. She is oh-so-aware of her parent's compulsive social climbing, yet is branded "the debutante" by her fellow cops. She attended all the best schools and parties, but never felt like the "in-group." She has dropped out, dropped in, and is now trying to make a success in the New Orleans Police Department, living in the Quarter, unsure of herself with a totally non-supportive family who look down on her "blue collar" job.
Yet Skip is a likeable, bright gal who knows New Orleans like an oyster knows his shell. She is on parade patrol at the height of Mardi Gras and is an eyewitness when the King of the Carnival, upper-crust businessman Chauncey St. Amant is shot while waving to the crowd from his float. In full view of the crowd, a person costumed as Dolly Parton has shot him from a balcony on the parade route. Pandemonium!
Rookie cop Skip is quickly assigned to the homicide team on the case because she "knows" these top-drawer people. (This seemed a little flimsy to me, but what do I know about the New Orleans Police Department?) Enter the St. Amant family, worthy of Tennessee Williams. Fragile, alcoholic wife, Bitty has a tenuous hold on reality; gay son Henry who adores his mother and loathes the late Chauncey; beautiful, perfectly mannered, but oh-so-wild daughter Marcelle; and loyal family friend Tolliver, who might be in love with Bitty, but then again might be gay. This tattered, aristocratic family takes over the book. Nothing is quite as it seems, and many twists and turns take place before the conclusion. Then we have another fillip of a twist that smartly reminds us of just what New Orleans is all about.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Tour of the Big Easy July 19, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This review is for the Ivy Book first Ballantine Books edition, February 1991. Julie Smith has published at least 19 mystery novels in four series. NEW ORLEANS MOURNING was the first novel in the Skip Langdon series. The Mystery Writers of America gave it the Edgar Award for best novel in 1991. There are now at least nine titles in the Skip Langdon series.

Skip Langdon is a young, tall, white lady from a prominent New Orleans family. Her father, Don Langdon, is a doctor, who no longer talks to Skip. Her mother, Elizabeth, talks too much so Skip tends to avoid her. Whenever Skip calls her yuppie brother Conrad, he knows she wants something because why else would she call him. But you don't need close family ties if you have Jimmy Dee Scoggin, Skip's fifty year old, five-foot square hopelessly gay criminal lawyer landlord who hands her a joint whenever he waltzes through her door.

Skip is a policeman with only two years on the New Orleans force. It's Mardi Gras and the king of Rex, Chauncey St. Amant is on parade. He looks up to wave at someone dressed in a Dolly Parton costume with balloons in her bodice and a two-gun holster. Dolly shoots Chauncey St. Amant. Skip knew the St. Amant family since her rubber pants days; she grew up with this uptown crowd, so she is temporarily assigned to the homicide division to help in solving Chauncey's murder.

Julie Smith uses an above average number of names in her stories. There are at least 117 named characters (including one dog) in NEW ORLEANS MOURNING versus fifty or less in most novels. You might get dizzy with the rush of characters in the first ten pages, but by page 17 things will start to settle down.

Julie Smith seamlessly weaves the sound, sight, smell and feel of New Orleans into this story. It's more than a mystery story; it's a tour of The Big Easy.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great armchair trip to New Orleans at Mardi Gras July 6, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Julie Smith gives Skip Langdon a wonderful debut as a cop trying to make her mark on the force. The New Orleans details are authentic. I enjoyed Skip's explanation of the subcultures of the city. My reading group read this and everyone, young and old, loved this Louisiana gal who was not the sterotypical beauty queen or little rich girl.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars New Orleans Mourning! August 19, 2013
By A. Bond
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Rookie police officer, Skip Langdon is called to stand in the crowd in one of the Mardi Gras parades. She watches socialite, Chauncy St. Amant, who was crowned Rex waving at the crowd from his float. She sees a woman dressed as Dolly Parton twirling her gun toward him as he waves back. A shot is fired, and Langdon, although stunned, struggles to get to St. Amant, whose dead body lays in the middle of the stalled parade. Who killed Chauncy St. Amant and why? Skip Langdon is on the case! This book was one of the most depressing reads ever in my life. Skip Langdon's feeling sorry for herself by the third chapter. The victim's family is all dysfunctional alcoholics. A dialogue after the parade between Langdon and a filmmaker highlighted negative differences between New Orleans' cultures. Overuse of obscenities and editing issues prevailed. I really tried to finish this adult mystery, but I just couldn't.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for mystery fans. April 11, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is an excellent first novel in the "Skip Langdon" series. Far better than Smith's "Rebecca Schwarz" series, and far more interesting. The story leaves you yearning for more information about the main characters and a trip to New Orleans. Well deserving of the Edgar Award.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This book is really great. While reading it I felt like I was actually in New Orleans.
Published 2 hours ago by Vera L. Jefferson
3.0 out of 5 stars GOOD READ
Book was good but if this had been the first Skip Langdon book I was reading, I wouldn't have read another one. Read more
Published 18 hours ago by pcchefjane
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously a good, well plotted, rapidly spaced tale that leads to...
Whew, what an awesome finish. I loved this book. It's an awesome read and held my interest enough that I just kept reading.
Published 1 day ago by Patricia Rydstrom
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. A rather poor start
Excellent book. A rather poor start; however, developed into an excellent mystery.
Published 3 days ago by fredsmom
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
As police/detective mysteries go this one was a failure. Too much time was spent on various character stories and memories and not enough time was spent on the murder mystery... Read more
Published 6 days ago by SageMyst
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I,'ve read in a long time
Took me a little time to get the people straightened out,but then I couldn't put the book down. Julie Smith is a terrific writer, giving the reader the flavor of New Orleans &... Read more
Published 6 days ago by gardenbug
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Mystery
This was a good read. Almost everything was tied up neatly in the end. It was easy to feel Skip's frustration in the end.
Published 9 days ago by KLH456
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read!
It had a lot of atmosphere and intrigue!
Published 12 days ago by Cinderella
5.0 out of 5 stars Page Turner
Set tight in old New Orleans, lots of action and local color; pithy, fun read. Going to get the rest of the series........
Published 18 days ago by Woody
4.0 out of 5 stars Rookie cop stumbles through murder investigation. One star given for...
I think the part of this book I enjoyed most was the prolog. It gave such a great history and description of New Orleans that I wanted to leave immediately to revisit the... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Sharbart
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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.



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