Wednesday, July 18, 2012

(99)Hell or High Water by Joy Castro

Hell or High Water

Publication Date: July 18, 2012
Pages: 352


New Orleans, Louisiana has a long, rich history of being the kind of town where people go to have a good time.  New Orleans became front and center on the World stage when Hurricane Katrina brought the city to Her knees and killed nearly two thousand people.

Hell or High Water by Joy Castro picks up in 2008 New Orleans.  Nola Cespedes is a young journalist trying to make a name for herself at the Times-Picayune she is tired of doing fluff pieces on plantations and is thrilled to finally have a real shot at being a journalist.  She has finally been given the opportunity to write her first feature story on the hundreds of registered sex offenders who went off the grid during and after Katrina.   While researching her story Nola is taken into the belly of the crime beast that simmers underneath the surface in New Orleans.  Most recently, a young, beautiful tourist has gone missing and Nola has a hunch that one of her sources for her article is responsible for her disappearance.  As she digs deeper the ghosts of her own past seem to be catching up with her.  Will she be able to maintain her professionalism while working on the story of a lifetime or will the scum of the earth drag her into the belly of the beast?  This dark novel moves along at a rapid pace and comes to an utterly shocking conclusion.

Hell or High Water is a dark, very dark novel and Nola Cespedes is a dark, very dark character.  The way that she likes to self harm with her destructive decisions is very similar to Elsbeth Salander (Girl With A Dragon Tattoo) or even Michael Munroe (The Informationist). Nola is a dark and complex character. You see her struggling to be "normal" and that makes her a very empathetic character.  I will say that the conclusion shocked me at first, then after I stepped away and gave it some thought, I realized that the author had subtly been building to that conclusion the whole story.

Bottom line, Hell or High Water, is as dark and gritty of a novel as they come.  Like I said, if you are paying attention, you can see the author build to the shocking twist, but I was blindsided by what happened.  If you are looking for a good gritty mystery or are interested in New Orleans, give it a read, you won't be disappointed.

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I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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