Written by Lyn LeJeune — Take a well-known piece of New Testament scripture, add a liberal dose of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, and a crime fighting duo made up of a ghost and a Voodoo Gran Met, and you basically have all the key ingredients for Lynne LeJeune’s first novel in her New Orleans Trilogy.
Christian crime fiction may not be a sub-genre you’re overly familiar with. Maybe it conjures up images of crime fighting clerics like Father Brown or Brother Cadfael, but there is a lot more to it than that. Be warned though, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Alongside the Voodoo there is a strong Christian theme running through this story, so it may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s definitely worth exploration.
The amateur sleuths in this tale are ex-social workers Hannah ‘Scrimp’ Dubois and Earline ‘Pinch’ Washington. I say ‘ex’ because Pinch falls victim to our killer early on and partner Scrimp finds herself being scapegoated for the deaths of nine children who have fallen prey to a particular serial killer who targets children under the care of the city’s authorities. And, that isn’t the end of the body count.
Scrimp is driven by her own desire to see justice done for Earline and the murdered children, but this isn’t going to be your average bit of amateur sleuthing. Hannah has much to come to terms with, not only has she lost her closest friend but she also must deal with the fact that she’s a rookie Gran Met in the Voodoo tradition. It’s something she’s pretty relaxed about and it’s going to prove useful as she learns the extent of her powers because she’s going to come up against some pretty dark forces, and have to deal with some painful truths about her own past along the way.
Aided by Pinch, who has returned as a ghost that only Scrimp can see thanks to her newly acquired powers, she searches for clues as to why anyone would target these particular innocents, stopping off for her regular hits of gumbo and other local delicacies. She journeys through the city meeting the foster families of some of the victims and enters the houses of some of New Orleans’ leading families before travelling through Dante’s Inferno. In the process she comes face to face with the deadly Le Armee Blanc. It’s a journey that once started must be seen to its shocking conclusion – her own survival depends on it.
There’s an awful lot going on in The Beatitudes and at times you do feel slightly overwhelmed by the amount of information you’re being asked to process. It’s fascinating stuff, although at times it can leave you feeling a little side-tracked. However, it’s an enjoyable read, which once you get into the flow will keep you entertained until the final reveal.
CFL Rating: 3 Stars