A FRENCH QUARTER MASSACRE, ANOTHER IN MISSISSIPPI, AND A JIGSAW OF A PLOT!
Never have Tony Dunbar’s diabolically complex plotting, on-the-nose characters, and hawk-like ability to seize upon and capture everything New Orleans been on better display than in his jaw-dropping new thriller. FLAG BOY, the TENTH entry in his popular Tubby Dubonnet series, is Dunbar’s most wickedly clever mystery since his Edgar-nominated CROOKED MAN, as dark and stormy a tale as ever slithered its noirish way out of New Orleans.
The set-up alone’s enough to make you believe in the butterfly effect. Two acrobats burglarize a house; a sultan moves into a French Quarter mansion; a Mardi Gras Indian, in the wrong place at the wrong time, is wrongfully arrested; and our hero, lawyer and sometime-detective Tubby Dubonnet, comes upon a double murder while paying a social call in the wilds of Mississippi. Thus is the stage set. You know instantly– because this is a Tubby Dubonnet mystery– that these disparate events are intricately intertwined.
Next, as Elmore Leonard famously never said, all hell breaks loose– and with more than a touch of Leonard’s own brand of wry and knowing humor. You can barely turn the page before a bloody massacre leaves the sultan’s entire family dead; the Indian– now Tubby’s client– gets fingered for this one, too; one of the acrobatic burglars hooks up with Tubby’s best friend; and some way, somehow, Dunbar weaves each of these wildly divergent strands– and a few others– into the kind of old-fashioned puzzle mystery they just don’t write anymore. It’s as if James M. Cain married Agatha Christie.
Nobody but Cain could pack a plot the size of all Louisiana into a space the size of a French Quarter balcony, and nobody but Christie could pull off the kind of riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma she pioneered. Dunbar does both– and all in one slim, thrill-packed book. Although perhaps at this point his long-time fans are thinking Wait! How does he work the food in? There’s always food! Well, that’s there, too.
Leonard, Christie, and Cain fans should hurry on down, as well as devotees of John Grisham, Michael Connelly, Alafair Burke, Robert Tannenbaum, Lisa Scottoline, and John Ellsworth– in fact, anyone who loves hard-boiled, humorous, noir, or puzzle mysteries, especially all rolled up into an extremely stylish legal thriller.