Written by Ed Kovacs — Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, struck Louisiana in August of 2005 and killed almost 2000 people. It’s seven years later and tourists have long been flooding back into the New Orleans area to celebrate Mardi Gras and enjoy the hospitality of the residents. I was fortunate enough to visit New Orleans this summer for a few days, for the very first time, and was delighted to spend time in a city that combined the old and the new, and is so rich in history. Author Ed Kovacs spent two and a half years in the city right after Katrina, and eventually set up a security company there, so using it as his story’s setting was a no-brainer. He uses his knowledge of the area, and the storm’s devastation, to great effect.
Storm Damage takes place about five months after Katrina. Cliff St James, former cop of eight years and mixed martial arts coach, is hired by the daughter of a bar owner who was found dead in his bar’s back room right before Katrina hit. She wants to know what happened to Tiki Hut Sam. As it happens, Cliff was second on the scene, right after Sgt Dice McCarty. Cliff finds him tapping away at the victim’s laptop and can’t stand the man, especially since he found out that McCarty was sleeping with his ex-wife.
Sam was shot in the head and clad only in a bath towel, so they assume he was killed while coming out of the shower, and that the dead man is actually Sam Shiu. The gunshot to the head pretty much wiped away visual ID, but his daughter thinks it is, at the time, her father. Now she’s not so sure, and she wants Cliff to find out the truth. Evidently, Sam told Twee that Cliff was a cop that could be trusted in a police force that was already well known for its dirty dealings. Cliff is hesitant at first, especially after finding out that the body was never recovered and the Tiki Hut is a lost cause after the flood waters swept through. However Twee offers him $500 a day and $30,000 after the case is wrapped up, and he can’t refuse. He’s been sleeping on a dirty mattress in his dojo, with a huge hole in the roof, and $30,000 could go a long way towards repairs.
Cliff uncovers connections to not only the CIA, but also various area gangs, and drug connections aren’t out of the question. When they found Sam his safe was standing open and it’s revealed that he recently took out a $500,000 bank loan, but no one knows what it was for. Twee seems to be hiding secrets of her own, much to Cliff’s chagrin. She might have connections to some of the more undesirable residents of New Orleans and although it seems very clear that she loves her father and wants to find out his fate, she’s keeping more than a few of her cards hidden.
Ed Kovacs plays things pretty straight here with his storytelling, and with Cliff. He’s a deeply moral man yet doesn’t come without baggage and isn’t afraid to get a bit dirty in meting out justice. He’s still nursing heartbreak from his divorce, even though his ex-wife is revealed, over the course of the book, as somewhat of a miscreant. I wanted Cliff to move on so badly, and I think he did to a large degree, and there are hints of future romance to come. Storm Damage is populated with plenty of colourful characters, especially Cliff’s good friend and cop Honey Baybee. Yes, an unlikely name, but she’s one tough lady and is always up for a good brawl. Storm Damage is a great mystery set in a city that, although torn by a devastating storm, is down but certainly not out. I can’t wait for the next instalment
CFL Rating: 4 Stars