Dr. Kit Franklyn, one of the top criminal psychologists in New Orleans, is also an amateur horticulturist who just loves experimenting with new plants. She's a woman who likes her work and her homelife to be separate. Which is why it's so annoying that her dog Lucky has had to go and dig up a human jawbone in Kit's own garden. Acting quickly, Kit calls longtime partner and good friend Chief Medical Examiner Andy Broussard, a man whose forensic skills are as keen as his cajun cooking. Together with a team of investigators, Kit and Andy exhume the skeleton of a young woman who's been dead for quite some time. It's also clear that the woman, whoever she was, did not die a natural death, that evidence coming after only a brief glance at her crushed skull.
It's now up to the pair to trace the evidence back in time to the original inhabitants of Kit's home and, hopefully, the culprit. It doesn't take long for the remains to be dated back over two decades previous to an incident involving not only the home's previous tenants, but certain select members of the city's medical community. The victim herself is also identified as Francie O'Connor, a 27-year-old woman working as a prostitute at the time of her death. For a while it seems like a cold case until two more murders occur in the French Quarter around the time of Mardi Gras, the victims of which bear an eerie resemblance to the way Francie herself would have been murdered--blunt force trauma to the head--so many years ago. Though it's a bit dated, this mystery and its predecessor Blood On The Bayou are strikingly reminiscent of the plethora of forensic pathology mysteries churned out today, both with the vivid detailing of medical procedures relating to crime and the situational clues which link the past to the present. And of course there's the always razor-sharp leading characters whose no-nonsense attitude toward crime is perpetually invigorating. Plus it's a book chock full of colorful references to the always exotic New Orleans during Mardi Gras. (MYS DONALDSON)