The Kindness of Strangers by Julie Smith

 

Mystery

Kindness of Strangers (Skip Langdon Novels (Paperback)) Kindness of StrangersJulie Smith; Fawcett 1997WorldCatSkip Langdon, homicide officer on the New Orleans police force, is on an extended leave. Recently she watched her partner get shot and die, then she was forced to shoot his murderer in front of the murderer’s wife and child. She still has nightmares and extreme depression from the episode. Now she needs to find a therapist and some interest to bring her life back into focus. She is able to find both.

Her attention gets fixed on a local “healing” preacher. The man, adored by his parishioners, is running for mayor of the city. Langdon has a gut feeling about Earl Jacomine – he is evil. She determines to find out the truth as a concerned private citizen. As a police officer, even on leave, she is required to stay out of politics. Following up on her instincts on one of the candidates is not a conflict of interest as long as she doesn’t purposefully give the information to his opponents.

As she starts to ask a few innocuous questions, doors are immediately slammed in her face. The one woman Langdon knows who would talk about Jacomine’s questionable actions died and was a Jane Doe in the morgue for months before Langdon learned and identified her. With the onset of her questioning, the officer is suddenly the object of a smear campaign herself.

Langdon’s friend, Jimmy Dee, is trying to cope with his new family. He had adopted his young teenaged niece and nephew recently when his sister died. Sheila, at 15, and her friend Torian, are boy crazy, anti-parent, and are at the age where they are certain they know what’s best for themselves. Langdon is trying to help Dee as he transitions into a responsible, loving parent. Then Torian, followed by Sheila, get involved in one of Jacomine’s spin off projects. Now Langdon is frightened for the girls.

This is a dark, edgy novel in the Skip Langdon series. New Orleans is being threatened by a hurricane. A man in his thirties “falls in love” with one of the two girls. The preacher runs an eerie, threatening religious cult. Langdon still is oppressed by her depression from the shooting. All the plot twists and background of the book give it a tense air. The further I got the more I was torn to put it down because it was so unsettling and to keep going to see what was going to happen next.

The biggest problem I have is the devotion Jacomine receives. He has buckets of charisma. But how does he get his people in the first place? He has a church, but we don’t see him preaching in this novel. One character, Potter Menard, the head of security, has a blind, unexplained devotion. At one point he would “put a gun to his own head” and pull the trigger if asked by Jacomine. But why? Menard had made his own way in the world before he met the preacher. What made him such a convert? This is never addressed, and detracts from the overall novel in my opinion.

Notice: Non-graphic violence, Strong sexual content

More books by Julie Smith
Skip Langdon series at Stop! You’re Killing Me!

Link to Amazon.comLink to BetterWorld Books

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