SETTING: NEW ORLEANS
New Orleans and Louisiana loom large in my Nick Herald genealogical mysteries as symbols of the stubborn permanence of the past in conflict with the seductive, sometimes dangerous masquerades of the present.
My fictional Big Easy, the stage for much of the action of the novels, continues to titillate and disgust the rest of the country. The city is exotic, sensual, and charming to the point of being addictive, and yet crass, tawdry, and shallow; piously smug, ludicrously vain, and yet venal to its muddy core; highly cultured, mindlessly violent; encrusted with Old World patina, ever bamboozled by New World carpetbaggery; elevated by indomitable grit and stubborn adaptability, and yet enervated by chronic hedonism and indolent fatalism.
Louisiana plays by different rules, from her delicious cuisine and rousing music, to her let-the-good-times-roll vitality, to her raucous politics. Down here in bayou country, even two centuries after the Louisiana Purchase, nothing happens quite the way you would expect in a boot-shaped piece of America at another latitude . . . and that's what makes Louisiana such a perfect setting for mystery!