Rumble on the Bayou
“This day just keeps getting better.” Deputy Dorie Berenger stared at the alligator in front of her. It had to be the swimming pool…The pool owner, Maylene Thibodeaux, bulged out of a lawn chair next to the structure of cloudy water, jug in hand, wearing a pink bikini and sitting in stoned silence. Which was rare when you considered her usual mouthiness, but understandable since it was almost evening and she had probably been at happy hour since before noon.
I have to give it to Ms. DeLeon: this opening is terrific, and it had me from page one, which continues as Dorie discovers why said alligator looked half-dead, “eyes half-closed, as if he would drop off to sleep at any moment”, floating in the middle of the pool with something like a backpack hanging out of his mouth. The visual of the alligator drugged out of its mind on heroin being watched by the overly amorous (and not just a little drunk) Maylene was perfect. The author did just what she was supposed to with her first few paragraphs. She introduced the heroine, Dorie, and showed us what Dorie’s life is like as a deputy in Gator Bait, Louisiana. Her day-to-day life is filled with the quirks and petty offenses of the people of Gator Bait, but every once in a while Dorie’s official duties take a more serious turn. All of this is suggested with a doped up alligator and a bag of heroin. It’s pitch perfect and well done.If the first chapter grabbed my attention, the characters and the setting kept it. One review I read compared Dorie to Stephanie Plum; I take some issue with that. Not because I think Evanovich readers won’t go for Dorie, but because I think Dorie is the more interesting character. She’s intelligent and tough, but only in the most realistic of ways. Not a superwoman by any stretch of the imagination, Dorie does what’s needed – pure and simple. Though Dorie’s dad is the sheriff of Gator Bait, Dorie has been effectively running the department since he retired. Dorie and the townsfolk are fine with the situation. The problem is that the discovery of the heroin makes it clear that someone in her town is involved, and Dorie soon finds herself investigating the people she knows and loves. DEA Agent Richard Starke makes sure Dorie doesn’t let anyone slip through the cracks.
The clues Dorie unearths in Gator Bait are connected to a mobster named Shawn Roland. Richard has been trying to get Roland for years. If recent events mean he has to work with a local deputy and hang out at the end of the world in Gator Bait, Richard will do so. To his surprise he finds that the attractive deputy is far more competent than he thought, and she may just be the one to help finally bring Roland to justice.
While the mystery solving and the relationship between Dorie and Richard are central to the story, Ms. DeLeon doesn’t skimp on any of the other details. The supporting cast is well-developed and interesting in their own right. A romantic subplot between Dorie’s fellow deputy and the waitress a the local diner is handled just right. And we’re shown enough of each of the suspects to make any of them possibles in the whodunnit. The reveal of the culprit was both totally surprising and also completely thought out. This author knew what she was doing in all aspects of the story.
Considering this was a debut effort, I’m going to be expecting great things from Jana DeLeon. Though Rumble didn’t move me quite enough to be a DIK, it did make me more then eager to see what the author writes next!
|Review Date:||December 27, 2006|