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Carl T Smith

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Louisiana Burn
by Carl T Smith   

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Books by Carl T Smith
· Nothin' Left to Lose
· A Season For Killing
· Carolina Fire
· Lowcountry Boil
                >> View all

Category: 

Mystery/Suspense

Publisher:  River Oaks Publishing ISBN-10:  1579660665
Pages: 

396

Copyright:  Jan 1, 2006 ISBN-13:  9781579660666

The 2nd book of the Sam Larkin series. Sam takes part in an investigation of former Thornton Hunnycut, who had previously sent Sam to prison years before. Now on the stage of high-stakes presidential politics, will Hunnycut gain a slot on the Democratic presidential ticket?

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Enigmatic Sam Larkin, a former environmental law-enforcement officer, ex-con, ex-teacher and artist is no stranger to violence. But now, after being called - under false pretenses - by Karen Chaney, a federal officer and Larkin's sometimes lover, to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, he finds himself torn from the serenity of his lowcountry home, which he has created to put the past behind him and thrust into a mission of retribution. In this explosive novel, Chaney and her Special Agent in Charge, Neil Dougherty are assigned to do a background investigation of former Louisiana Federal Judge and now United States Senator, Thornton Hunnycut. The senator, a result of his power in the senate, his ability to deliver the South and the machinations of his powerful lobbyist live-in, Marlene Cole, is in the running for the second spot on the Democratic ticket in the coming Presidential election.

Chaney is more than familiar with Hunnycut, who unjustly sentenced Sam Larkin to prison in Angola for fifteen years. That a federal judge sent Larkin to a state prison was unorthodox enough, but his being released after four years for no apparent reason, the whole trial being expunged and Larkin being given a large sum of money with a warning never to come back into the state of Louisiana was a signal of the corruption Senator Hunnycut is involved in.

Though extremely conflicted about resurrecting Larkin's past Chaney is cajoled by her SAC, Neil Dougherty, to bring Sam back to Louisiana under false pretenses. His return to the Pelican State begins a series of events and revelations so bizarre they are difficult to fathom. Like a phoenix rising rises from the ashes, Larkin becomes an integral force in the probe, which exposes not only the senator, but the chief administrator of the state, the prosecuting attorney at his trial and his defense counsel.

The motive for their actions are a mystery to Sam and Chaney until the investigation leads them through a maze of deception and depravity spreading from Louisiana to Washington, DC. Political chicanery, murder for hire, a sociopathic killer, suicide, and bribery create a fabric of ruthless brutality and viciousness that is probably more truth than fiction. The cast of vivid supporting characters enhanced by the author's lyrical descriptions of the natural beauty of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, New Orleans and the Cajun country of Louisiana provide a startling contrast for the telling of this tragic tale of greed, power, human frailty and teachery that can only end in an explosive resolution.




Professional Reviews

A Suspenseful Novel of Lies, Deception, and Revenge
Award-finalist writer Carl T. Smith presents Lousiana Burn, a dark novel following the continued adventures of Sam Larkin, former environmental law enforcement officer and ex-con. Though Larkin is highly familiar with violence, he is content to remain amid the relative quietude of his South Carolina home - until his erstwhile lover and federal officer Karen Chaney cajoles him away. Manipulated into an investigation concerning Thornton Hunnycut, the main who unjustly sent Sam to prison twelve years ago and who has become a potential candidate for the vice presidency, Sam must delve into Louisiana's seamy underbelly, even though he is forbidden by his release agreement to return to the state. A suspenseful novel of lies, deception, and revenge, Louisiana Burn irresistibly draws the reader in and does not let go until the end. Also highly recommended in the first Sam Larkin novel, "Lowcountry Boil".

Extraordinary Color and Characters
Rarely do I find a modern novel that so engrosses me as to read it straight through... I could not put it down. The characters drive the plot against the steamy, lush background of our lost New Orleans. Really entertaining.

A Good Read With Plausibility Problems
Louisiana Burn is a mystery but not in the "who-done-it," detective, private investigator or police procedural sub-genres. The protagonist, Sam Larkin, is an ex-con who was ensnared in a sham trial in Louisiana. The mystery is why he was framed and then released after serving only a few years of his sentence, given a large sum of money and all records of his trial and conviction expunged. One condition for his unexplained release is that he never returns to Louisiana. So Sam, having divorced his wife while in prison, buys a home on Mathews Island in the South Carolina lowcountry. All that is back derived from the prequel novel, Lowcountry Boil, which I did not read.

Louisiana Burn begins when Karen Chaney, a DEA agent and Sam's lover in Lowcountry Boil, seduces him to return to the Gulf Coast to help her investigate Thornton Hunnycut, the judge at Sam's trial. Hunnycut, now a United States senator, is on the short list for vice presidential candidate.

Although there are few puzzles and twists, the struggle in this story is how to get the villains, not to figure out who they are. The characters are well developed, three-dimensional folk, the writing clear and good, and the sensuous details on food and scenery are sufficient without being tedious.

Yet, I had some problems. Why would the FBI turn over the investigation of a senator to the DEA? The reunion between Sam and his former wife seemed unrealistic. And in the end, when you add up net gain to the villains, the reason for framing Sam in the first place is not convincingly explained.

Overall, a good read with plausibility problems.


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