DEATH BEFORE FACEBOOK by Julie Smith

death facebookThis is the fourth of the Skip Langdon mystery series by prolific author Julie Smith.  I read her Other People’s Skeletons,  featuring a different protagonist, Rebecca Schwartz.

After reading this, I KNOW I have read at least one other in the Skip Langdon series, because I remember the long distance boyfriend, Steve.

Skip, whose full name is ….. oh, phooey, I can’t find it…. is a 6 ft. tall lady detective in the New Orleans Police Department.  For some reason, I like stories set in New Orleans.  Maybe it has to do with the voodoo possibilities, or the zydeco music, or whatever.  I was in New Orleans in February a number of years ago, and let me tell you, it was HOT and HUMID and I hated it.  I guess I enjoy the city more in the abstract than in the concrete.  Concrete.  Get it?  Get it?  I crack myself up.

The story is set in the 90’s, in the days of Prodigy, AOL, and dial-up modems, and nobody has a cell phone.  It features an online site called The Town,  but is referred to as a bulletin board.  Geez.  Remember those days?  The Town seemed to be like today’s Second Life, a place where you can have an online identity and lead a different life.

To be perfectly honest with you,  I am not sure how the title fits.  Unless it means before the era of Facebook.  It was formerly titled New Orleans Beat.  I guess they changed it to make it more appealing to today’s reader.  Well, not to fret, it was a pretty good mystery no matter what its title.

A geeky dorky loner, 31 years old and still living with his parents, falls off a ladder at his home trying to rescue a cat trapped on the roof.  He dies from the fall.  But his friends on The Town site think it is murder, one of them gets  hold of the autopsy report, and they set up a stink for a murder investigation.  The police get involved four days after the event.

The mother of the dead young man, a fey, out-of-it-woman, a former hippie folk singer, has half the male population in love with her.  As the story progresses, the interconnected family ties, ex’s who don’t live in Texas, and a coven of witches complicate matters and make this simple accident appear more and more bizarre, and less and less like an accident.   Coven of witches.  See?  That’s why I like stories set in New Orleans.

We have a couple more deaths to consider, one the past, and a fresh one, leaving us certain that the deceased knew something that someone didn’t want made public.

And to top it all off, the long distance romance goes awry, right in the middle of all the excitement.  Isn’t that always the way?  It never rains but it pours.

Nice story, nice writing, good mystery, and if you figure out who actually killed the husband 27 years ago, you are a more astute reader than I am, because I never was able to follow that line.  Good thing I am gorgeous because I am not all that bright.

 

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