Dec 1, 2012
By Suzanne Johnson
Editions: ebook, hardcover, paperback
Published: November 13th 2012 by Tor Books
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.
Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.
It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.
~ Bewitching BT
Dishing the Dirt: River Road Character Secretsby Suzanne Johnson
Think you know everything about the characters in your favorite books? I guarantee you, the sneaky authors of those books are keeping secrets. Sometimes it might be some kind of background detail that wasn’t important enough to include in the books. Sometimes, the right moment to reveal it hasn’t presented itself yet.
I’m no exception, and all of the characters in my Sentinels of New Orleans series are holding onto a few secrets (well, besides all those secrets they’re keeping from the humans who live around them in South Louisiana). But I’m feeling like a Gossip Girl today, so here are a few things you might not know.
DJ Jaco, Green Congress wizard and Co-Sentinel of the New Orleans region. DJ’s job is to help protect the borders between modern New Orleans and the world Beyond and keep the preternaturals under control. Did you know DJ, or Drusilla Jane, was named after her great-aunt Dru, her grandmother’s scandalous sister who was married…a lot. DJ thinks maybe she stopped after husband number five, but she isn’t sure and Gran won’t talk about her.
Alex Warin, Co-Sentinel of the New Orleans region and Enforcer for the wizards’ Congress of Elders. We all know Alex is a big, tough guy who likes to shoot things. Did you know that as a young teenager, Alex played wide receiver for the Picayune (Mississippi) High School football team? He switched to basketball when he was 16 and topped six-foot-two.
Jake Warin, Enforcer trainee, wizards’ Congress of Elders, and owner of the Green Gator Bar in New Orleans’ French Quarter. We all know Jake’s a former U.S. Marine injured in Afghanistan, but did you know that before he enlisted he earned an accounting degree from Ole Miss? Yep, at heart, Jake’s a bean-counter.
Jean Lafitte, early 19th-century French-born pirate and now a member of the historical undead, is New Orleans’ most famous citizen, of course. But did you realize that Jean was the official representative of the historical undead—famous people given immortality in the Beyond by the magic of human memory? Jean will be representing the historical undead on the Interspecies Council following a hotly contested election…against an undead U.S. President. I can’t say more or he might make me walk the plank.
Willem Zrakovi, the Elder in charge of North American wizards, is a power-player among the wizards. Did you know that his official office is in his hometown of Boston?
Rene Delachaise, the merman who heads the Delachaise clan of merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, just southeast of New Orleans. Rene is a shrimper and owns his own trawler, but did you know he and his brothers Robert, Cheney, and Claude also work a smuggling business with Jean Lafitte, moving goods back and forth between the modern world and the Beyond? Cigarettes are popular in the Beyond, while exotic spices and antique coins bring good prices in the modern world.
Marie Laveau, the voodoo priestess, and also a member of the historical undead. DJ has to summon Marie in Royal Street to learn more about voodoo, of course, but in real life did you realize the real Marie Laveau later in life renounced voodoo for Catholicism? And that there are really two Marie Laveaus—mother and daughter, both voodoo priestesses, which has led to much confusion over the years.
So there you have it—a few secrets of the characters of Royal Street and River Road! Of course, I have some MAJOR secrets I can’t tell yet…stay tuned.
" The minute hand of the ornate grandfather clock crept like a gator stuck in swamp mud. I’d been watching it for half an hour, nursing a fizzy cocktail from my perch inside the Hotel Monteleone. The plaque on the enormous clock claimed it had been hand- carved of mahogany in 1909, about 130 years after the birth of the undead pirate waiting for me upstairs.
They were both quite handsome, but the clock was a lot safer.
The infamous Jean Lafitte had expected me at seven. He’d summoned me to his French Quarter hotel suite by courier like I was one of his early nineteenth-century wenches, and I hated to destroy his pirate-king delusions, but the historical undead don’t summon wizards. We summon them.
I’d have blown him off if my boss on the Congress of Elders hadn’t ordered me to comply and my co-sentinel, Alex, hadn’t claimed a prior engagement.
At seven thirty, I abandoned my drink, took a deep breath, and marched through the lobby toward the bank of elevators.
On the long dead-man-walking stroll down the carpeted hallway, I imagined all the horrible requests Jean might make. He’d saved my life a few years ago, after Hurricane Katrina sent the city into freefall, and I hadn’t seen him since. I’d been desperate at the time. I might have promised him unfettered access to modern New Orleans in exchange for his assistance. I might have promised him a place to live. I might have promised him things I don’t even remember. In other words, I might be totally screwed.
I reached the door of the Eudora Welty Suite and knocked, reflecting that Jean Lafitte probably had no idea who Eudora Welty was, and wouldn’t like her if he did. Ms. Welty had been a modern sort of woman who wouldn’t hop to attention when summoned by a scoundrel.
He didn’t answer immediately. I’d made him wait, after all, and Jean lived in a tit- for- tat world. I paused a few breaths and knocked harder. Finally, he flung open the door, waving me inside to a suite plush with tapestries of peach and royal blue, thick carpet that swallowed the narrow heels of my pumps, and a plasma TV he couldn’t possibly know how to operate. What a waste.
“You have many assets, Drusilla, but apparently a respect for time is not among them.” Deep, disapproving voice, French accent, broad shoulders encased in a red linen shirt, long dark hair pulled back into a tail, eyes such a cobalt blue they bordered on navy. And technically speaking, dead.
He was as sexy as ever.
“Sorry.” I slipped my hand in my skirt pocket, fingering the small pouch of magic-infused herbs I carried at all times. My mojo bag wouldn’t help with my own perverse attraction to the man, but it would keep my empathic abilities in check. If he still had a perverse attraction to me, I didn’t want to feel it.
He eased his six-foot-two frame into a sturdy blue chair and slung one long leg over the arm as he gave me a thorough eyeraking, a ghost of a smile on his face.
I perched on the edge of the adjacent sofa, easing back against a pair of plump throw pillows, and looked at him expectantly. I hoped what ever he wanted wouldn’t jeopardize my life, my job, or my meager bank account.
“You are as lovely as ever, Jolie,” Jean said, trotting out his pet name for me that sounded deceptively intimate and brought back a lot of memories, most of them bad. “I will forgive your tardiness— perhaps you were late because you were selecting clothing that I would like.” His gaze lingered on my legs. “You chose beautifully.”
I’d picked a conservative black skirt and simple white blouse with the aim of looking professional for a business meeting, part of my ongoing attempt to prove to the Elders I was a mature wizard worthy of a pay raise. But this was Jean Lafitte, so I should have worn coveralls. I’d forgotten what a letch he could be.
“I have a date after our meeting,” I lied. He didn’t need to know said date involved a round carton with the words Blue Bell Ice Cream printed on front. “Why did you want to see me?”
There, that hadn’t been so difficult—just a simple request. No drama. No threats. No double- entendre. Straight to business.
“Does a man need a reason to see a beautiful woman? Especially one who is indebted to him, and who has made him many promises?” A slow smile spread across his face, drawing my eyes to his full lips and the ragged scar that trailed his jawline.
I might be the empath in the room, but he knew very well that, in some undead kind of way, I thought he was hot.
I felt my face warming to the shade of a trailer- trash bridesmaid’s dress, one whose color had a name like raging rouge. I’d had a similar reaction when I first met Jean in 2005, two days before a mean hurricane with a sissy name turned her malevolent eye toward the Gulf Coast. I blamed my whole predicament on Katrina, the bitch.
Her winds had driven the waters of Lake Pontchartrain into the canals that crisscrossed the city, collapsing levees and filling the low, concave metro area like a gigantic soup bowl.
But NBC Nightly News and Anderson Cooper had missed the biggest story of all: how, after the storm, a mob of old gods, historical undead, and other preternatural victims of the scientific age flooded New Orleans. As a wizard, I’d had a ringside seat. Now, three years later, the wizards had finally reached accords with the major preternatural ruling bodies, and the borders were down, as of two days ago. Jean hadn’t wasted any time. "
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Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities. She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis' birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.
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