For the month of September we have been crisscrossing the nation, visiting Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, and Seattle talking about the uniqueness of Crime Fiction from each of these places, and learning about the fictional detectives who work those streets.
New Orleans, a city famous for its night life and rich Creole culture.
The vibrant music scene, delicious fusion food, and beautifully ornate French and Spanish architecture draw people to NOLA by the hundreds of thousands every year. The Big Easy knows how to throw a party; Mardi Gras is probably one of the most famous festivities in the world. There is a constant, vivid sense that everyone in New Orleans lives their life with easy energy.
Juxtaposed again this vibrant life is the constant reminder of death. New Orleans is rightfully famed for ornate graveyards, vampires, day of the dead celebrations, moody swamps, mysterious voodoo traditions, and gothic themes.
We think it’s this fascination and comfort with all things dark and otherworldly, coming as it does from a city so apt to embrace life, that tugs at the imaginations of so many writers and creates a spectacular backdrop for detective novels.
Here are our editor’s favorite New Orleans-area detectives:
James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux: Former New Orleans cop Robicheaux is known for his laissez-faire attitude towards following the letter of the law while solving crime in New Iberia, Louisiana. Robicheaux continually crosses the line between seeking justice and battling his own demons, and we love him for it.
Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse: A human amongst vampires, Stackhouse lives a dual life as psychic waitress by day and paranormal crime PI by night. She’s funny and brave, the stories are sexy and smart, and even the most stalwart of traditional detective readers will find something to love in these books.
Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt: Claire DeWitt believes she is the world’s greatest PI. Once a teen detective in Brooklyn, Claire has deep roots in New Orleans, where she was mentored by the brilliant detective Constance Darling. DeWitt solves crimes in post-Katrina NOLA, battling the city’s demons right along with her own.
James Sallis’ Lew Griffin: The Big Easy’s patron saint of hopeless missing children cases, Griffin is a professor, poet, novelist, and PI who navigates the underbelly of the French Quarter and the mean streets of Central New Orleans in his ongoing hunt to find the missing and save the lost.