The Deepest Edge

The Kissing Blades

 
Into the Fire by Jessica Hall
(Onyx, $6.99 PG) ISBN 0-451-41130-7
****
Sable Duchesne was born and grew up in the bayou. While attending college on a scholarship, she attracted the attention of Jean-Del Gamble, one of the heirs apparent to the Creole Gamble dynasty. It didnít take long for that social set to ostracize her. In fact, they publicly humiliated her to the point that she abruptly left school, regretfully writing Jean Del (J.D.) out of her life. She later enrolled in another college.

Ten years later Sable returns to New Orleans as a social worker with a cause and attracts the support of Marc Leclare, the heavily favored gubernatorial candidate. Her cause, to bring better health care to the Cajun population, has his support and as chapter one opens Sable is looking at the warehouse space LeClare is willing to let her use.

Upon entering the warehouse, Sable finds LeClare dead and then realizes the building is on fire. The arsonist strikes her on the head and locks the door behind him. Luckily, Sable is rescued by firefighters.

J.D. Gamble renounced his fatherís chosen career for him and is a detective on the New Orleans Police Department. He and his partner Terri respond to the fire and find J.D.ís fatherís best friend LeClare dead. J.D. is stunned to find Sable emerging from the fire. The press naturally sees her as the younger, beautiful woman in some type of tryst.

Meanwhile the arsonist, realizing Sable has survived, is committed to finishing her off since he is certain she recognized him. J.D. never quite recovered from Sable dumping him. He now grapples for some type of control as he realizes she needs protecting, especially after a second attempt is made on her life.

Breaking every rule of professional conduct, J.D. takes Sable to the bayou and the story changes to showcase the rekindled steamy romance and the differences between the Cajun and the Creole population.

Jessica Hall (who writes science fiction as S. L. Viehl) either lives in Southern Louisiana or has done a remarkable amount of research. The description of Mardi Gras in full swing is surpassed only by her keen understanding of the schism between the Creoles and the Cajuns.

The principle and secondary characters are well drawn and full of depth. Whatever the tone of the scene requires, Hallís dialog delivers Ė be it sassy or meditative. The tension heightens at a credible pace.

There is only one discordant note - often scene changes are too abrupt and can be disconcerting. That said, this was my first read of Jessica Hall and it was such a pleasure that I am now seeking out her backlist.

--Thea Davis


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