Archives for December 2013

Read Beans On Monday: Geaux Local–Exploring New Orleans Beyond the French Quarter & Living Like a Local


Geaux Local: Exploring New Orleans Beyond the French Quarter & Living Like a Local

by Eric Sarrett

Rather than reviewing a book this week, I’m sharing a bit about the New Orleans guide that I recently made available on Kindle. You may wonder why, beyond trying to financially support this blog, I chose to write a book for New Orleans tourists when there are so many guides already out there, many of which are exhaustive and comprehensive, having been compiled by publishers who have resources that dwarf my one-man effort to encompass the Crescent City; but the fact that these other guides are so detailed and impersonal is the point. In the Information Age when more content is uploaded in a few hours than created in all of human history up to this century, exhaustive resources can be, well, exhausting. Too much information, too little knowledge.

I’ve purchased such typical guides myself and found  I seldom use them, becoming overwhelmed by an avalanche of information that describes but doesn’t discriminate. I don’t want to know every option, just the best options. Thus, with Geaux Local, my goal is to highlight certain restaurants, bars, and activities that I feel will make for a great experience for New Orleans visitors who are either new or have been a few times but want to dig deeper. Granted, I don’t highlight the only places where you might have a great experience, but if you’re new in town I feel confident that if you follow this advice you will most certainly have a richer experience and discover New Orleans at a level that goes beyond the cursory ‘Big Easy’ clichés that hotel concierges are programmed to recommend. To accomplish this I offer enough options to give readers a choice, but not so many that you are overwhelmed into inaction. Geaux Local is written in a conversational tone, providing advice and recommendations as if you has a close friend in town to narrow down your choices and give insider tips to help you make the most of your time.

However, although recommendations are part of this book, I go beyond the where to the what, when, why, and how to help visitors gain a better understanding of New Orleans and feel comfortable during their visit. More so perhaps than any other in city in the U.S., New Orleans can be as intimidating as it is alluring. It has a reputation for crime and corruptions, and part of its appeal is its quirky culture that includes rituals, social norms, and pronunciations that confound not only first time tourists, but returning visitors. Then there are the patchwork neighborhoods that almost function as independent hamlets  (at one point the city split into three municipalities trying to  cope with this diversity) whose names get thrown around in directions and conversation as if common knowledge, yet seem like Chinese to the unseasoned visitor. I address all these issues and more, such as when to visit to miss the biggest crowds but not the best food and music.

Geaux Local is the guide I wish I would have had when I first visited . . . and even before I moved here . . . for after decades of visiting there was still so much I didn’t know. I’ve only recently become comfortable with the neighborhoods and geography, still stumble over pronunciations for some of the more obscure streets, and continue to learn the peculiarities and unspoken social rituals. Thus I include things like neighborhood and pronunciation guides, advice on how to get around, and some tips to help you feel safe–for you’ll be more confident if you know where you’re going and how to get there.

As a regular visitor over three different decades and a current resident, I’ve gone through and understand what it’s like to approach this city from the outside. I know the questions you’re likely to ask as a New Orleans tourist, because I’ve asked them all myself. People who grew up here or lived here longer may know more about the city, but if you’ve never gone through the process of discovering it anew or are far removed from that experience it can  be difficult to relate to New Orleans visitors who are still both bewitched and bewildered by this unique place.

Below is an overview of the chapters and topics covered within:

I Job Application: Why You Should Hire Me As Your Guide

II How To Act Like A Transplanted Local

  • Why a Transplant?
  • Be Patient & Adjust Your Expectation
  • Dewes
  • Don’ts
  • Neighborhood Guide
  • Pronunciation Guide
  • How To Get Around

III Where To Eat That Locals Enjoy

  • Breakfast
  • Brunch
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Dessert

IV Where To Drink Alongside Local

  • Bars With Good Food
  • Bars With Good Music
  • Bars With Fantastic Happy Hours
  • Bars With a Great Local Vibe
  • 24 Hour Bars Outside The French Quarter

V Who To Listen To That Locals Dig

  • Living Legends
  • New Favorites
  • Up & Coming
  • Choose Your Own Adventure
  • Music Calendars

VI What To Do & See That Locals Enjoy

  • Book Stores
  • Brewery Tours
  • Coffee Shops
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Shopping
  • Where To Find Out What’s Going On
  • Ten Tourist Attractions Worth Paying For

VII What To Read To Immerse Yourself In Local History & Culture

  • Fiction
  • Non-Fiction

VIII When To Visit To Avoid Crowds & Blend In More Easily

IX Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

So if you’ve never been to New Orleans or have visited a time or two but are looking for expert guidance for your next adventure, I hope you’ll consider purchasing Geaux Local. For the same amount or less than you will likely tip your concierge or cab driver you’ll receive comprehensive advice and guidance from someone who’s been in your shoes. And if you are a local with an expert opinion of your own, feel free to purchase it and contact me with your 2¢–I love a good debate!




Christmastime In New Orleans: (Frenchmen Swings & Kermit’s King)


A Jazz Combo Celebrates Ruffins' Birthday Inside Kermit's Treme Speakeasy

A Jazz Combo Celebrates Ruffins’ Birthday Inside Kermit’s Treme Speakeasy

The Tuesday before Christmas Eve Tuesday I’d set out like a Hobbit on an unexpected journey to rekindle my holiday cheer and reconnect with New Orleans. I’d originally planned to do this meandering the following day before the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus open build session at the Den of Muses, as written about last week, but having already found my inspiration I didn’t feel the need to arrive downtown early; however, when things wrapped up around 9pm I once again caved to my wanderlust.

One of the joys of my summer in the French Quarter was living two blocks away from Frenchmen Street, though since summer is off-season I wasn’t able to fully take advantage of it. Now I live all the way across town and seldom make it over there. Thus, with the Den of Muses around the corner in Marigny, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit.


2013-12-18 21.42.05As I approached this bustling hub of music clubs destined to someday be recalled with the same legendary reverence as spots like Storyville, it seemed odd arriving from inside Marigny rather than crossing over from the French Quarter. Thus The Spotted Cat is the is the last club I check out, being at the ‘end’ of the street, but tonight it was my first stop. This small club specializes in traditional jazz and roots combos and I rarely if ever have seen a bad band there. If this locale oft featured on Tremé were at the start of the street I likely would have rarely made it further, as nearly proved that case that night.

2013-12-18 21.41.38As I stepped inside, the place was remarkably packed for a Wednesday night a week before Christmas and I almost retreated. The crowd was going wild, though, and the energy radiating from the small stage was immediately palpable. I spotted an abandoned doorman’s stool right beside the stage and settled into the only free spot I could find.

2013-12-18 21.41.56As the small ensemble burned though high-octane trad jazz, I had to lean out the door and read the whiteboard to learn their name: Orleans 6. Although I know nothing about them, they struck me one of those revolving door combos formed to give sidemen in other bands some extra work, though they gelled together remarkably well. The audience was even more impressed than I was, cheering them on as they traded raucous solos. Although every member was an accomplished musician, a gray-haired man in a sports coat puffing a fat cigar that looked a little like Ron White of Blue Collar Comedy fame with a similar devil-may-care demeanor was flying across the keys with a spry and furious ease. It was one of the better pyrotechnic ivory displays I’ve seen in town, and if I see this fleet fingered Ron White on the keys again anytime soon, I’ll most certainly find myself planted on a stool again.


2013-12-18 22.23.56After the Orleans 6 wound up their set I wandered across the road and two doors down to d.b.a. Early on in My Year of Mardi Gras I wrote about a magical ‘typical’ Wednesday I spent on Frenchmen Street, centering on my plan to catch Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington during this standing Wednesday night gig at this soon-to-be-legendary club. As I settled on a stool ten months later, Washington seemed a bit tired and subdued. As he paused to catch his breath, his bandleader explained that he’d recently been under the weather, then went on to relate how he’d recently calculated they were well into the thousands for appearances at this weekly gig. With that kind of consistency, the Roadmasters possess enough chops to weather an ailing frontman, and they carried the show to another fine performance with a little help from their friends sitting in on guitar and vocals. In between, Washington still found it in him to rise to the occasion. So if you’re in town on a Wednesday night, you can’t go wrong waltzing with the Wolfman.


2013-12-19 16.35.08Thursday my focus was on completing chores before flying out Friday, but as I took a blogging break that morning to check Facebook I noticed that Kermit Ruffins had posted an invitation to his 4:30 birthday party at his Treme Speakeasy. It sounded like the kind of spontaneous adventure I’d moved to town for, but I had mindless errands to run and felt I should try to be productive that evening after two nights of celebration. As I found myself in line at the post office at 4:00, however, my good intentions quickly eroded beneath the holiday crowds. Stamps could wait. I handed a letter for my LA OT licensure to the clerk and hopped in my truck, fighting rush hour traffic to Basin Street on the edge of the now famous Tremé neighborhood.

2013-12-19 16.40.09Four-thirty seemed early for a party, but as I crossed the road from my parking spot a crowd had already formed around a flaming grill where oysters were being offered up raw or chargrilled. Kermit was holding court nearby in a red jacket and colorful golf hat only he could pull off, and I am always amazed at the easygoing swagger of Ruffins. He rules New Orleans like a king while smiling and joking like a jester. He’s so happy and good-natured it would be easy to underestimate him, but the man is an encyclopedia of American music and builder of a local empire. He disarms everyone around him with his humor, thereby recruiting them as loyal subjects.

Nearby, someone was dressed in a giant Louis Armstrong head taking pictures with visitors, and it struck me as the perfect tribute. Kermit is the true heir to King Louis, having figured out how to similarly package staggering genius with a universally loved persona, thus making the complexity of jazz an accessible expression of joy for the people rather than an intellectual exercise for a devoted few.


2013-12-19 16.37.13I soon headed inside to buy a beer at the bar, but the jazz band was still setting up so I headed back outside where I realized the oysters were on the house. Shyly at first, I nabbed a few raw on the half shell—some as big as the palm of my hands—eventually braving the long line for the excellent chargrilled oysters the crowd was jostling for. I felt a little, though, like I was crashing the party, but Kermit had posted the invitation and, besides, I’ve bought most of his CDs and admission to countless shows, so I gradually warmed up to the gracious giving and tipped generously.

2013-12-19 17.11.09By the time I made it back inside, I had no qualms enjoying the mini po-boys being carved from several racks of beef that had been stuffed with garlic and roasted for the occasion. The band had started up as I lingered at the table chatting with Kermit’s mother, and as I subtly danced in the corner my belly was full and conscience clear!


The band was set up in front of the same tree topped with one of Kermit’s red hats where I’d seen him play last Christmas. It was his birthday, though, so he was taking the night off. An excellent band was playing in his stead, though, lead by a swing singer with one of those girlish, twenties-style high-pitched voices ala Squirrel Nut Zippers that I find so enchanting. (They also featured the same trumpet player from The Spotted Cat the night before.) Mixing in holiday standards with old style jazz, they had the crowd swaying and cheering and even coaxed the birthday boy on stage for a couple of duets.

Hanging with Kermit Last Christmas

Hanging with Kermit Last Christmas

As the evening wore on, Kermit changed into a Hugh Heffner worthy robe and danced with his new bride as the elated crowd cheered him on. Pure joy radiated from every corner. Per the local tradition, countless dollar bills were pinned to his shirt and I added to the collection, thanking him for making the coolest city in America even cooler.

2013-12-19 22.33.41Last Christmas I’d visited with a dear friend and we’d spent a magical evening in Kermit’s Treme Speakeasy listening to him play “Christmas Time Is Here” from a Charlie Brown Christmas in front of that tree as we feasted on some of the best red beans, catfish, and fried chicken we’d ever had is perhaps the best Christmas memory I’ve had in a decade, for the holiday had lost most of its luster in my 30’s, and once again, Kermit managed to make this Grinch’s heart grow just a size or two. I had dropped by only for an hour or two  but ended up staying until things wound down. It was approaching 10pm as I drove away and I didn’t want to lose that magic, so stopped the Avenue Pub, found a perch on their balcony overlooking St. Charles Avenue, turned on my computer, and attempted to convert my feelings into words as the streetcars passed below. All the while Louis Armstrong ran through my mind, singing, “It’s Christmastime in New Orleans . . .”

Merry Christmas Ya’ll!




Christmastime In New Orleans (Do You Know What It Means To Re-Fall In Love With New Orleans?)


2013-12-17 17.41.52

Christmas In Jackson Square

For the past couple of months I’ve been diligently plugging away, trying to remain productive while searching for a way to bear fruit from my labor. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to get so obsessed with the harvest that you lose the joy of gardening in the process. As my frustration grew and I doubled down my efforts to get something back from my writing, I started to fear I was losing focus of the reason I moved to New Orleans in the first place—I was missing the forest trying to harvest the fruit trees. Between my holiday travels I was only in town for two weeks (and one weekend), but it started to dawn on me that I needed to step away from the keyboard and reconnect with all the reasons I began this adventure, searching to revive a bit of my dormant Christmas spirit in the process. [Read more…]

And The (Over)Lord Spoke: There Shalt Be Chewbacchus


Sacred-Drunken-Wookiee-Original2Last week I wrote about my meeting with the Krewe of Really Awesome Parodies (and subsequently caught some K.R.A.P. on Facebook—choose your descriptive verbs carefully.) Despite some good-natured ribbing (at least I hope it was good-natured!), the reaction from Chewbacchus was mostly positive, particular from my new K.R.A.P.ateer compatriots; and even if a Wookie or two got their intergalactic panties in a furry wad, at least they were paying attention!

Wookie loveHaving finally made a few inroads, I headed back out Wednesday night for a Chewbacchus ‘open build’ night where Krewe members gather to create throws (the beads and other freebies tossed out during parades), work on floats and contraptions, or simply drink beer and supervise. There seemed to be a few supervisors at the Den of Muses that night, but that’s the beauty of NOLA: [Read more…]

Read Beans On Monday: The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans by Susan Larson


The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans (Second Edition)

by Susan Larson

If there is such a thing as ‘truth in advertising’ it can be found in the second edition of The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans by Susan Larson, for this is a resource for the true booklover (casual readers need not apply). This handy treasure trove of information is a guide to all things literary in NOLA including a survey of the city’s entire literary history; addresses for sightseers of famous writers who once lived here; a date book for planning your literary vacation; a comprehensive guide to local libraries and bookshops; an extensive bibliography on books about the city and by local authors; and, for lagniappe, several vignettes from local writers such as history must-sees from a Tulane professor, the best places to write by the author herself, and ‘the sexiest places to read a book’ by, not surprisingly, the author of The Last Madam.

I read The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans from cover to cover for this review but, though there are some narrative parts, it’s more meant to be kept in your backpack or tote and pulled out when you’re wandering the French Quarter wondering where Faulkner or Tennessee Williams hung out or when in one of the fabulous local indie bookstores trying to decide what to read next. Larson‘s narrative on local literary history is the most ‘readable’ section of the guide, at times making me wish she would linger longer on some of the more fascinating periods as she strives to cram so much into so few pages, though the most impressive–and by far largest–section is Larson‘s bibliography of all things New Orleans.

Larson was a longtime book editor for the Times-Picayune and continues to host The Reading Life on local public radio, so her reading credentials are solid. Due to this lifetime of rabid reading, her bibliography stretches for 100 pages and covers fiction, memoir & biography, history, photography & architecture, children’s lit, music, poetry, and various other sub-genres. This is, you might note, the Second Edition, so while much has changed since 1999 the biggest event has been a little storm you may have heard about; thus the bibliography contains an entire Katrina section. Most books are followed by a short description to help you choose wisely, but, lest you fear being overwhelmed by too many choices, Larson begins each section by cherry-picking her must-reads.

While Larson‘s reading list is both daunting and impressive, I was encouraged to find that many of her must-reads are books I’ve chosen through my research and recommended via Read Beans On MondayLarson also discusses in detail how writers are drawn to New Orleans, speaking directly to this audience as a sort of advisor to the aspiring literary soul. As she described the magnetic literary appeal of the city, though, I couldn’t decide if I were part of a grand literary tradition or just an imitator lacking imagination?!

As I said earlier, The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans is the perfect resource for a book nerd such as myself to keep tucked in his backpack for those unexpected moments (though unfortunately I checked it out from the library!) Because of this specificity, though, I imagine the audience is limited. If you’re living in or planning to visit New Orleans, though, and are the type of person who puts your monthly book club offering off till the last minutes because you have five things you’re waiting to read, frequents local literary events and book fairs, or gets Book Riot updates in your Facebook stream and never misses an episode of their awesome podcast, then this is a must-have resource to help you embrace this fascinating city and make the most of your visit–or life–here.




Mardi Gras Planning: Figuring K.R.A.P. Out


2013-12-11 19.39.22In the preamble to this poppycock affair I wrote under the WHAT heading:

Mardi Gras isn’t a few weeks of planning followed by a big blowout. It’s a year of preparation and perspiration that unfolds over several weeks like a military campaign hell-bent on spreading heaven throughout the darkest months of the year.

Over the past ten months I’ve witnessed the truth in this assertion, though it’s a small segment of the population that is so engaged. As I revealed in my post about Mardi Gras World, most Krewe Captains hand in next year’s theme on Ash Wednesday—and sometimes before the last bead has dropped Fat Tuesday. Artists and administrators at places like Mardi Gras World (for there are for our five other studios that build floats) work year round and the Board of Directors of all the majors Krewes are constantly planning, fundraising, corralling their members to make sure dues are paid, and assuring things are on course for when the full machine starts to come to life around this time of year. Because they DIY (Do It Yourself, for the acronym challenged!) Krewes such as Chewbacchus and Krewe du Vieux build their own contraptions, the most technically and artistically gifted members are also busy much of the year.

I’m sure the 80/20 rule applies here as it does in most things in life meaning 20% of the people do 80% of the preparation. Despite all my efforts to get involved early, it’s hard to stroll right into town and slide into that 20% that does so much to make Carnival such a rousing success, but Mardi Gras season is now fast approaching and thus this is the time of year the other 80% get into gear to carry their 20% of the load. With this in mind, I attended a recent meeting of Chewbacchus sub-krewe K.R.A.P. (Krewe of [Read more…]

Read Beans On Monday: Zeitoun by Dave Eggers



by Dave Eggers

Zeitoun is difficult to review because recent scrutiny has raised the possibility that this could be yet another work of fictionalized non-fiction falsely aggrandizing a flawed protagonist into a larger-than-life champion of justice, and it is difficult to judge a book you’re not sure you can trust. Dave Eggers’ portrayal of post-Katrina heroism meet government corruption and incompetence is certainly fact-based as human rights violations under a marshal law fervor swept the city; thus outrage rings true. Abdulrahman Zeitoun (Zay-toon) was a successful and well-known contractor in New Orleans whose civil rights were violated, as were those of countless others who were arrested without evidence, denied a phone call, and detained under execrable conditions in ‘Camp Greyhound,’ a chain link prison hastily constructed in a grease soaked parking lot used for parking buses. The maze of outdoor cells each held only a single portable toilet, forcing prisoners to sleep on the filthy asphalt while being harassed by guards for infractions real and imagined. Camp Greyhound has entered local lore as part of a systematic breakdown of government and citizen protections; however, recent events have tarnished the image of the chivalric hero that Eggers plucked from the flood waters and spun to national fame to draw attention to this atrocity, leaving many wondering if the author embellished his hero to suit his tale of good and evil. Few observers doubt the government deserves the harshest criticism for its handling of Katrina, but Abdulrahman Zeitoun (commonly called simply Zeitoun) has proven to be something far removed from the gentle soul portrayed in the book, leaving critics wondering if [Read more…]

GEAUX-ING LOCAL (& Distant Wooing): How I Spent My Thanksgiving Break


CB ThanksgivingIt’s been a while since I’ve posted about my New Orleans experiences. Earlier in the autumn I grew inconsistent with the Read Beans on Monday reviews but was busy and had plenty to report. Conversely, the past few weeks I’ve been diligent about the book reviews but haven’t had much to share otherwise.

This is true mostly because while things have slowed down I’ve been hunkered down to focus on a couple of projects that I hope will bear fruit. During this period I’ve been holding back a post on the Morpheus meeting I attended in late October while awaiting requested revisions from the Krewe Captain to my previous piece on meeting him at Rock-n-Bowl, as he feared he said too much! In addition to staying active with the social rides that I did post about, I’ve attended several literary events such as the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge and a few events suggested by Fleur de Lit, hit different bars to find the perfect spot to watch Saints games, and hosted a few successful ‘Red Beans on Monday’ gatherings. Otherwise, I hunkered down and tried to be extra-studious before departing on holiday travel where I’ve tried to steal as many moments as I can. The focus of this ‘hunkering down has been on developing a new book and trying to revise an re-market and old one.


While My Year of Mardi Gras continues to evolve in mission and focus, it evolved perhaps most radically over 10 months of pre-planning. Initially I toyed with the idea of [Read more…]

Read Beans On Monday: The Axman of New Orleans by Chuck Hustmyre


The Axman of New Orleans

by Chuck Hustmyre

An axman loose in New Orleans brutally murdering citizens in their beds and the police don’t have a clue . . . or worse, don’t want him caught? This may sound like the sort of grisly serial killer fiction that springs from the imaginations of James Patterson or Patricia Cornwell, but this novel is actually historical fiction based on a series of unsolved attacks that terrorized New Orleans from 1911 to 1919.

I’ve said in previous reviews that I’m not a huge consumer of genre fiction, but I met Chuck Hustmyre at a recent Reading Between the Wines event sponsored by Fleur de Lit and was intrigued when he offered a review copy. A former federal agent, Hustmyre confessed to teaching himself to write by reading books from Barnes & Nobles. Kudos to his initiative, for he has gone on to have great success publishing countless articles, several screenplays, and books of true crime fiction including Killer With A Badge, a story of a killer within NOPD  for which, surprisingly, NOPD wasn’t completely cooperative in turning over records. When he stumbled upon the Axman Murders during research, he was intrigued by this seldom mentioned menace who has been described as the American Jack the Ripper (someone even sent a similar letter to local papers although it can’t be proved it was the killer or a hoax). His plans to write a non-fiction account, however, were thwarted when Katrina wiped out so many public records (though many facts are of public record such as the Tulane fraternity that printed a rebuttal inviting the axman to visit, promising to leave a window open so he wouldn’t damage the front door).

Writing The Axman of New Orleans as historic fiction, however, has its advantages. It allows the author to create two strong central characters, a brave but jaded cop and a relentless reporter, both of whose fathers died tragically–perhaps as part of the conspiracy that weaves through the story. It also allows Hustmyre to draw conclusions from informed speculation that could only be presented as conjecture otherwise. With this creative freedom, the author paints a picture of local police and political corruption that would be difficult to prove but is frightening in the hypothetical. It also allows him to center his story around the strongest suspect that emerged after the killings stopped.  Although involvement was never proved, the coincidences surrounding his life and death are intriguing, providing the author a firm anchor to ground his speculative tale.

In the end, the uncertainty of historical fiction is frustratingly enticing. This book may have lost me early if simply sensational and exploitative fabrication. If it were non-fiction, I would have vetted the reliability of the author and either accepted or rejected his thesis and moved on. With historical fiction, though, like ‘based on reality’ Hollywood movies, I find myself tormented wondering what is truth and what is fiction. It can be vexing but it keeps your attention, and Hustmyre does a great job keeping the reader engaged.

In fact, a more subtle title and cover may have done the book a service, for both seem to detract from the book’s craft. Although not glittering literary prose, Hustmyre’s language is stark and raw rather than histrionic as the cover and title may insinuate. Hustmyer obviously learned the lessons of idol Elmore Leonard. At times he can over-describe. His background in law enforcement provides great insight into  process but occasionally waxes so didactic that it breaks through the ‘fourth wall’ of suspended disbelief. The structure of chapters alternating between present-tense first-person and flashback third-person is confusing at first and sometimes makes it difficult to follow the flow of events. There are multiple victims, a growing stable of characters, and a complex conspiracy so it is difficult to keep it all straight. Although I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t one I’ll pick up and immediately read again, yet to fully fit the pieces together it warrants a second read.

Despite a few small flaws, though, I thoroughly enjoyed The Axman of New Orleans. It didn’t open my eyes or change my perspective on New Orleans like some of the great books I’ve read, but it’s also not dumbed down or insulting like so much easily digestible mainstream genre fiction. The climax packs an emotional and tragic punch that lands because the characters, while not wildly original, rise far enough above cliché to make you care, and the ending is satisfying. The ultimate reason I’m not a big genre fiction fan is that I nearly always feel let down by the ending (I was told I absolutely had to read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo only to find it one of the most meandering, drawn-out, and ridiculous let-downs ever). I wasn’t blown away or left stunned, but nor did I feel cheated even though I felt like it was somewhat apparent where things were going. We knew the suspects, we just weren’t sure of their motives and connections to one another.

In the end, the strengths of The Axman of New Orleans far outweight its deficiencies. It is strong enough to appeal to a fringe crossover literary crowd and a sure thing for lovers of true crime, mystery, and serial killer fiction.