Picks and Pans Review: Mortal Sins

UPDATED 08/14/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/14/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Penn Williamson

Beach book of the week

New Orleans never forgets. At least that's the way it looks to Det. Damon Rourke in the fall of 1927 as he starts to investigate one of the most sensational homicides his hometown has ever seen. But the deeper Rourke delves into the murder of lawyer Charles St. Claire—scion of a prominent Cajun clan and creep nonpareil—the more convinced he becomes that secrets are never truly buried but instead merely tucked away, only to be unexpectedly disinterred at inopportune moments.

And more than a few pieces of Rourke's own dirty linen threaten to be bared by l'affaire St. Claire. For starters there's prime suspect Remy Lelourie, luminous screen star and the victim's recent bride—as well as the first love Rourke I never got over. Then there's Casey Maguire, a cutthroat bootlegger—and childhood buddy of the detective's. And even Rourke's own ma...well, our lips are sealed.

Although new to the mystery genre, Williamson—who has previously written historical romances under the pen name Penelope Williamson—skillfully unfurls her plot for maximal chills. She also weaves in plenty of spicy love scenes, intriguing subplots and Jazz Age atmosphere. Despite prose that occasionally turns as sultry as an August night on Bourbon Street, Mortal Sins offers a tempting gumbo of guilty pleasures. (Warner, $23.95)

Bottom Line: Steamy suspense in the Big Sleazy

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