Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Louisiana Longshot by Jana DeLeon

First Sentence:  I stepped off the Learjet at the private airfield just before dawn.
When CIA agent, Fortune Redding, assassinates the brother of a Middle Eastern arms distributor, ruining a perfectly good pair of Prada stiletto heels in the process, the result is a price on her head.  To protect her, she is sent into hiding at the small-town-Louisiana home of her Director's niece, one Sandy Sue Morrow, a former beauty-pageant winner.  What could go wrong when one is trying to fit in, solve a local murder while, and stay undercover.

Now and then, one hits a reading slump and needs something light and fun to get moving again.  This was it.  It was a delightful surprise and a lesson that one is never too old to listen to one's mother when they recommend a book to read. 
DeLeon has a voice full of sass and sarcasm—"I stared down Main Street and grimaced.  It was a cross between a Thomas Kinkade painting and a horror movie."—and defines the protagonist.  But beware, the neighbors, particularly Gertie and Ida Belle, who is president of the Sinful Ladies Society—"I looked outside and saw a crowd of gray-haired women bearing down on the restaurant.  Sixteen of them, probably from the Jurassic period…"--aren't what one expects either, which is so refreshing.  In fact, none of the characters are, including Bones, the very old hound who is true to his name and finds the human bone initiating the murder investigation.
The author captures a small town perfectly where everyone knows your business almost before you do.  Her pragmatism about religion is delightful—"Religion was by and large constructed by men, and I had yet to find a man who was logical.  Deconstructing religious rules would definitely be a journey into madness."  But it is also the south where food plays an important part—"'Give me the Seven Deadly Sins."'  Eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, gravy, pan-fried potatoes, and pancakes.  I could practically hear my arteries hardening."
There are wonderful, laugh-out-loud moments, which is such a treat, especially when the scene isn't silly, but clever and relatable. But there is also a wonderful moment of self-realization—"Good Lord.  I was actually pretty.  Like Mom."
It's not all light and fun, however.  There is a murder to solve, and a handsome cop with questions to evade.  There are good insightful observations and truisms—"Clearly, people were the biggest complication life threw at you."--well-done information on Fortune's past, and surprises and twists right through to the end. 
"Louisiana Longshot" is a delightful book.  DeLeon cleverly avoids a number of stereotypes.  The characters are wonderful, the humor is perfect, not slapstick, and the twists are plentiful and well-executed.  It really is a well-done introduction to a series which should be fun to continue.

LOUISIANA LONGSHOT (LicInv-Fortune Redding-Louisiana-Contemp) - VG
      DeLeon, Jana – 1st in series
      CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform– Jun 2012