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.
How a Simple Social Misfit Became the
Most Fun Cop You’ll Ever Meet
(And the Best!)
by Julie Smith
Skip Langdon here, N.O.P.D. That’s N.O. as in New Awlins, dawlin’. (If you fly Southwest, they’ll pronounce it N’awlins, which is just not right! That’s like saying “y’all” in the singular. Good rule of thumb: there are about half a dozen ways to properly pronounce the name of my city, but three syllables is the minimum correct number, and four is even acceptable, as in New Or-lee-uns. Yep. That’s a preppy way to say it, but it isn’t upper crust, which is New Oyuns. Swear to God. And I don’t mean “oh-yuns”. This is “oy-vey”-oy.)
Sorry–got carried away there. What I was going to say was, God, I used to hate this burg! Although my parents were interlopers, I went to the proper school, so I grew up with the New Oyuns crowd. And it was pretty embarrassing being the child of social climbers. I mean the kind of people who needed me to get invited to the right birthday parties. Which I didn’t, of course.
This was probably because I’m just not genetically Southern, and possibly not even genetically human.
Most humans are born with the ability to figure out what’s expected of them, as I understand it. Well, I just…wasn’t. Never did anything right, never fit in, never knew why. Unless you count the fact that the average Uptown girl has the build of a bird. (And the brain too, I’ve sometimes thought.) But I’m just not a bird-girl. I am exactly five-feet-twelve and do not discuss my weight. So that could have had something to do with the fitting-in part.
All through grade school and high school—well, hell, even college–I was pretty sure I’d fallen out of a passing spaceship and landed in the Garden District. But I tried. I even bit the bullet and made my debut. Nothing worked, so I moved to San Francisco to see if anyone of my species lived there. And I got a great job, as a bike messenger. Then one day I saw a mugging in progress and I stopped it. Me! The incompetent kid who flunked out of Newcomb. (Didn’t mention that, did I? I transferred to Ole Miss and made it to graduation.) Anyhow, I stopped this mugging with my own oversized body and suddenly I thought, Hey, size matters! In a good way. I LOVED the feeling of kicking that perp’s sorry ass.
So I got the idea to become a cop. And when I ended up back in my hometown, suddenly everything looked different. I do fit in now. Sort of. I mean, I’m still not a bird, but I have a job to do and I get some actual respect from people I’m not related to. Cool! But those I am related to are another story. One of my favorite things about the job is how mad it made my family—Langdons just do not become cops.
But my top number one favorite thing is my landlord and gay best friend, Jimmy Dee Scoggin, who kept me supplied with pot until he adopted two kids and we both had to just say no. Although then this cute guy named Steve Steinman came to town…that’s up there too.
But anyway–how did I accomplish this miraculous turnaround? Well, one day, I witnessed a murder…and actually got assigned to the case because I come from the fancy “New Oyuns” crowd. See, the victim was the king of Mardi Gras–very high profile case–and the brass thought I might…get this: fit in.
So how’s that for a martial arts move? I mean, the very thing I was running from turned out to be…well, you get it. Stuff like that probably happens to you all the time. But then you’re probably human.
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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Genre – Mystery & Thriller / Police Procedurals
Rating – PG13