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Showing 1-10 of 20 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 46 reviews
on August 17, 2015
I read about ½ of this book and stopped: gave me a yukky feeling; no character, including Valentin, interested me as human beings rather than devices to move the plot along—with an inchworm slow plot progression, I might add. Additionally, I was not interested in understanding the many levels of social acceptability of various shades of black people, the particular color of black people, and the various ethnic groups that may be in the background of black people. I do not doubt that Fulmer is being historically–socially accurate—I’m just not interested in making those distinctions or reading about them, except in the time and geographically removed events from British novels and film. As well, sometimes I was getting more of a history lesson than an understanding of Valentin’s character. Equally, I am not interested any further evidence of New Orleans’ politics-police collusion—after all, I did watch the news about Katrina—during and after the event. The novel did charm me at the beginning with more than satisfying description/style—but that seemed to get lost as the novel progressed.
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on April 3, 2009
I very much enjoyed "Chasing The Devil's Tail," by David Fulmer. This is the first book in a series featuring Creole detective Valentin St Cyr, set in New Orleans in the early 1900's, and more particularly, set in Storyville.

Storyville was the "special district" set aside in New Orleans for legalized prostitution in 1897 under an ordinance introduced by Alderman Story, whose name became attached to the district, probably to his discomfort. It was closed down by the U.S. Navy in 1917 as being detrimental to the morals of young sailors. It remains legendary, its passing lamented in song (e.g. "Hop Scop Blues", by Chris Norris with the Golden Eagle Jazz Band; "Storyville Blues", by Big Bill Bissonnette's Easy Riders Jazz Band), and it is credited with being the incubator of New Orleans jazz. Storyville is one of the world's most famous red light districts, rivalled in the U.S. mainly by the single establishment of the Everleigh sisters, in Chicago. (It has been reported that a European crown prince was interviewed about his planned trip to the U.S. He was asked who he most wanted to meet in America. His answer was, "The Everleigh sisters!")

In this rich atmosphere, the plot centers around murders in several of the bordellos, which leads Tom Anderson, political power holder in Storyville, to assign his troubleshooter, St. Cyr, formerly of NOPD, to put a stop to this threat to business. Mr. Fulmer does a good job of evoking the time and place. He has clearly spent time studying Al Rose's "Storyville," probably the definitive work on the subject. (Interestingly, when Rose tried to learn who had owned the land on which the fancy houses were situated, he found that the relevant pages had been cut out of the parish records.)

One of the devices Fulmer uses is to lace the story with historical figures. Tom Anderson was a state legislator, local power broker, and the "King of Storyville." He ran a saloon in Storyville, was the lover of one of the high class madams, and probably owner of her establishment. Lulu White, and some of the other madams make appearances, as does Edward Bellocq, the famous photographer of the girls, Buddy Bolden and Ferdinand Le Menthe (who later took the name "Jelly Roll Morton"). You can almost hear Mamie Desdoumes playing "Mamie's Blues," and see the young Ferd Le Menthe working in the house as a can rusher in order to learn to play the piece.

In the story, Bolden, the 1890's-1900's trumpet player who may or not have been one of the progenitors of jazz (and mythologized in "Jelly's Last Jam," a miserable Broadway production, second worst of all those I have seen), is cast as a childhood friend of St Cyr's, and a prime suspect. The story is well-plotted, the characters are interesting, and the setting is fascinating for anyone with an interest in New Orleans, Storyville and all of the issues it posed, or the beginnings of jazz. Highly recommended.
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on August 19, 2010
I'm always looking for a series of mystery's to read & came across this one from Amazon's list of similar books to one I had read. I was struck by the historical period & the location, New Orleans at the birth of Jazz.

The book is well written, Mr. Fulmer does a good job of creating a vivid picture of what the city looked, sounded, and even smelled like (not very nice!). He included a hand drawn map of the area that is the main setting in the story, a very nice touch. I found myself flipping back to it as locations were mentioned & it helped create a more real sense of the setting.

The characters were well drawn, & the story especially focuses around people who are black or mixed race. So you get a sense of how difficult life was for them & the restrictions under which they lived. The white characters are not portrayed as just pure evil, but a mixture of good & bad, and you understand how little they valued the non-white population.

The other context weaved through the story is how pervasive music was to the culture in New Orleans. Musicians were held in high-esteem, and the real genius's (such as Buddy Bolden and Jelly Roll Morton who are characters in teh book) are literally worshiped.

The mystery is well thought out and logical. The hero's personal feelings confuse his normally logical brain & it's that conflict that is at the heart of the tale.

A very entertaining & interesting novel, I will certainly read the next one in the series.
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on May 15, 2017
Great story!
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on June 3, 2010
I loved Fulmer's description of Storyville,its amazing people and its tawdry way of life. Protagonist Valentin St. Cyr is a memorable and worthy character, as are most others in the book, especially the jazz artists, Buddy Bolden, Freddy Keppard and, briefly, a teenaged Louis Armstrong. Despite the delight of the setting and the characters, the mystery itself could have been done a lot better. There wasn't a whole lot of suspense and the ending was kinda tepid. Also, there were too many names of too many madames,but, fortunately you could ignore most of them. Fulmer's a pretty good writer. He leaves you with the feeling that you've just read a very enjoyable book, that your time wasn't wasted, and that you want to read more of the author.
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on August 8, 2015
A good yarn with an interesting, complex protagonist. I'll read more in the series for sure. After I finished the book I spent a fair amount of brain time trying to figure out where the clues to this noir detective genre mystery were dropped. They were there all right, craftily provided so as not to shout out to the reader.
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on May 2, 2014
If you are interested in the early history of Jazz or New Orleans and love a good mystery, this is a very good book to get lost in. There are several David Fulmer novels in this series and I plan to read them all.
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on September 26, 2011
I am a language arts teachers so I HAVE to read all day for my job. Usually when I get home I like to watch some mindless video or whatever, but even when I don't want to read, I can pick up a David Fulmer novel and escape to Storeyville in the early 1900's. The characters are vivid. I have read them all, but a reader can pick up any in the series for a great read. You need not read the whole series, but my bet is that you will.
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on February 23, 2014
I learned a lot about New Orleans when reading this book. I liked the way the author created the characters that were set into the story which was about what it was like in the 30's in New Orleans. Readers of mysteries will enjoy this story.
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on April 5, 2004
Author David Fulmer's meticulously researched and colorfully evoked images of 1907 Storyville delighted this New Orleans native. His characters are fully realized and credible, especially the beleaguered protagonist St. Cyr and the tormented jazz genius Buddy Bolden. Whether or not you "buy" the resolution is almost immaterial when a ride is this rich and authentic. Shame on those critical Texas readers insisting Creoles can't have black blood. As far back as the 1830s, New Orleans newspapers made reference to "Creoles of Color." As detective St. Cyr might say, "Case closed."
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