BAYOU WHISPERS by R B Wood
Crystal Lake Publishing, kindle edition, £3.60
Reviewed by Stephen Frame
BAYOU WHISPERS is a thriller with elements of horror. Set in New Orleans, it tells of a trauma survivor’s return to the city and her meeting up with an old friend as they face their respective pasts and the horror that confronts them now.
Jeannine LaRue is one of these people. After losing her family to Hurricane Katrina, she is abducted and subject to horrific abuse. On her escape, she is found by police officer Curtis Jones and a bond is formed between them. A bond that is subsequently broken by events in Jeannine’s life.
Their meeting up again is the start of rebuilding that bond. Jeannine is now an attorney, and Curtis is wanted for the murder of Jeannine’s abductors. Jeannine returns to New Orleans to help him, only to find herself drawn into a dark conspiracy of voodoo magic, drawn around her dead mother and aimed at the resurrection of an ancient evil god.
The premise of BAYOU WHISPERS pulls you in. It has the location, the dark underbelly of New Orleans and Louisiana. The story starts fast and continues that way. It mixes action and adventure with horror. But right from the outset, it feels like too many ideas are being thrown into the plot without their being adequately fleshed out. Take one of the main characters, Curtis Jones, as an example: a career police officer who used to be an Army Ranger and is now a career criminal, carrying out heists with a crew of his old army buddies. Throw into that the character’s denial of voodoo magic, while at the same time, one of his buddies is a golem resurrected by voodoo magic. It starts to feel forced.
Two villains are introduced; it feels like they are the main antagonists until each is revealed as a gateway villain to the real antagonist. The plot begins to creak under the weight of carrying so many devices around. The narrative is dotted with reveals that are sudden and are too much like a contrivance. The horror is not that horrible, there are some interesting ideas in it, but the use of zombies as generic “bad guy” soldiers feels threadbare. The worst of the horror comes from the description of the sexual abuse meted out to Jeannine following her abduction, which made for uncomfortable reading. Using Hurricane Katrina as a plot device felt close to exploitative.
BAYOU WHISPERS is a quick, fast read. Enjoyable as a thriller, if you don’t look too closely at it, but marred by it trying to be a horror story at the same time.