This is the first book in a new detective series featuring homicide detectives Elise Sandburg and David Gould. It is set in Savannah, where an interesting mix of voodoo, magic, and kudzu adds a rich atmosphere to the plot – indeed, Savannah itself can definitely be considered a “character” in this series.
The story begins in the morgue, where some bodies are discovered of people who are not actually dead; rather, they have been paralyzed by the toxin TTX, or Tetrodotoxin. TTX is a naturally occurring poison in some fish that is sometimes used by people to get high from the proximity to death… It is also occasionally used to induce zombie-like obedience. [You can read about so-called “zombie powder” on this science site.]
Elise, 31, was abandoned in a cemetery as an infant and subsequently adopted. It is widely rumored her real father was Jackson Sweet, a well-known local rootworker, or conjurer. These workers in folk magic use mixtures of roots, herbs and other substances to cast spells. The concoctions, called a mojo, are put together into a “mojo bag.” While Elise had an interest in such things as a young girl because of her rumored ancestry, she gave it up after a particularly bad result occurred that she associated with a mojo she had prepared.
Now, she is the single mom of Audrey, age 13, and getting used to a new partner at work, David, a former FBI agent from Cleveland. David keeps a lot to himself; clearly he is leading a tortured existence, but no one on the Savannah force knows much about him.
But if author Anne Frasier is known for anything, it is her skill at romance novels, and you can bet there is a reluctant attraction between Elise and David.
Evaluation: I only have first-hand knowledge of Frasier’s writing as Theresa Weir, from her excellent memoir, The Orchard. She did not disappoint at all with this mystery. Her character development of the two troubled main protagonists is excellent, and I definitely intend to continue with this series and see what develops between David and Elise.
Published by Thomas & Mercer, 2013