MAGNOLIA MOON
JoAnn Ross


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Pocket Books, February 2003
Reviewed by Sissy Jacobson

While cleaning out a storage room in the sheriff’s office, Nate Callahan, general contractor and mayor of Blue Bayou, Louisiana, runs across an evidence file from a case that was solved thirty years before. Finding valuable stock certificates and a personal journal enclosed, Nate tracks the next of kin to Los Angles, California.

Workaholic Homicide Detective Regan Hart of the LAPD has no time for relationships or a social life. Little does she know how drastically that life will change the day Nate Callahan walks into the police station, bearing an envelope and insisting on seeing her privately. Leaving the stock and the journal with Regan, Nate boards a plane back to Blue Bayou. He is confident that after she reads the journal, she will follow in order to seek further evidence that the woman whom she had always known as her mother, was indeed her aunt, and her true mother had possibly been murdered thirty years before.

As Regan arrives in Blue Bayou and enters the sheriff’s office, a young, skinny, teenager is walking along a back road, hunched over from hunger and the cold rain that has been falling all day. About to give up hope of ever getting a ride, he is thrilled when an eighteen wheeler stops to pick him up.

The warmth in the cab, and the mouthful of doughnuts is just beginning to relax the boy, when out of nowhere, a squeal of tires, a train whistle screaming, a crash…

Nate is not at all surprised when Regan walks into the sheriff’s office where he is working. Easygoing and laid back, he welcomes Regan to Blue Bayou and begins trying to interest her in the job of Sheriff, which is available. In the middle of explaining she is not interested, an explosion rocks the building. Grabbing a badge on the way out, Nate deputizes Regan as they rush to the scene of the truck and train collision. Nate, a volunteer fireman, and Regan are first to arrive at the site. Trapped in the truck that teeters precariously between downed live wires and a bayou, the young boy and injured driver are alive, but in a dangerous position. Nate and Regan, working together, heroically rescue the boy and the driver.

MAGNOLIA MOON by JoAnn Ross is a fast paced, well researched, beautifully characterized novel that contains romance, and suspense which takes more than one twist and turn as Regan and Nate unravel the mystery of Regan’s mother’s death. Ms. Ross has the Cajun dialect and customs nailed as though she were a native. I only found a couple of phrases and words that were incorrect, which I hope were corrected before the final printing. The book moves along beautifully for the first couple of hundred pages then, because too much of the history and culture of the Cajun area of south Louisiana is worked into the story, it begins to slow down. Also, about this time all the cajunisms get tiresome. Even I, a native of the area, was getting a little sick of them. We don’t talk that way all of the time. Other than this small complaint, I really liked this book and can readily recommend it.

 

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