Baronne Street by Kent Westmoreland

Baronne Street by Kent WestmorelandIn my mind, my indifference to Coco’s call for help played a part in her death. Rather than dwell on my complicity, I moved on to my responsibilities. – Burleigh Drummond

New Orleans private investigator Burleigh Drummond takes his responsibilities very seriously. So when he learns ex-girlfriend Coco Robicheaux has been brutally raped and murdered, and that several phone calls from Coco he had ignored were placed only hours before her death, he makes it his responsibility to find out who killed her and why.

Drummond’s investigation takes him deep into the seedy underbelly of the Big Easy, where he discovers that Coco had become an unwilling pawn in a plan to influence the mayoral election. To get to the ultimate truth Drummond will have to thread his way through a maze of corrupt politicians, crooked cops, the Velvet Mafia, and an entrenched, old money blueblood society who will close ranks to thwart any perceived threat to their power and control.

At first blush the wisecracking, gin & tonic drinking Burleigh Drummond brings to mind Philip Marlowe. Indeed, author Kent Westmoreland even tips his cap to Raymond Chandler by having Drummond describe one of the characters in Baronne Street with words reminiscent of Marlowe’s description of Moose Malloy in Farewell, My Lovely.

The character Drummond most reminds me of, however, is Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar. Both Myron and Burleigh are generally laid-back, violence avoiding, idealists at heart who seem to find themselves caught up in situations which spiral far beyond anything they anticipated. And just as Myron has in best friend Windsor Horne Lockwood III a go-to guy for the conscienceless violence, Burleigh has his own deadly sidekick with a murky background in Morgan Cross. Westmoreland could do far worse than bring comparisons to Chandler and Coben to mind.

Baronne Street is a stunning debut. Indeed, Westmoreland writes with the confidence and polish of someone well into their career, not a first time author. He gives amazing attention to detail (Burleigh’s fondness for Sapphire and tonic made me put the book down and mix one myself on at least one occasion… ok, maybe two), and his descriptions of the city are so vivid that by the time I’d finished the book I felt as though I’d actually visited.

The New Orleans setting and compelling lead in Burleigh are ripe for further adventures, not to mention I definitely want to know more about Morgan Cross, and I for one certainly hope to see Burleigh Drummond blossom into a long-lived series. It would truly be a shame if Westmoreland doesn’t find a larger audience for this fine debut, so why don’t you make this a win-win situation for everyone and take a trip to Baronne Street.

Baronne Street is Kent Westmoreland’s first novel. Kent currently works as a project manager for a bank, and lives with his wife and three cats in uptown New Orleans. To learn more about Kent, visit his website.
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8 Comments

  • Carol Kilgore

    December 20, 2010 - 11:31 pm

    I love visiting New Orleans, so I’m looking forward to this book – to see what it’s really like to live there. Great review. I like the bad boys, too. Sigh.

  • Mandy (The Well-Read Wife)

    December 20, 2010 - 11:45 am

    I am a sucker for novels set in New Orleans, so I will definitely check this one out!!

    • Elizabeth A. White

      December 20, 2010 - 6:42 pm

      I’ve never actually been there, but felt like I had after reading this. Great atmosphere, and lots of attention to details about what people are wearing, drinking, driving, etc.

  • Charles Gramlich

    December 20, 2010 - 11:24 am

    Good book for sure. I finished it not long ago.

  • sabrina ogden

    December 20, 2010 - 9:27 am

    I’ll take a trip to Baronne Street! Anything to get out of Salt Lake for a day or two. I love it when you find a new character that you want to read more about, and I’m afraid Burleigh Drummond will just be added to my long list of male fictional loves. I have so many now I can hardly remember all of their names. Sounds like a great book and your review is awesome, as always!

    Another book added to my list…credit card, please!

    • Elizabeth A. White

      December 20, 2010 - 9:32 am

      Burleigh is definitely a charmer, but I want to know more about Morgan. What can I say? In the Bolitar series, Win’s the one who intrigues me. In the Elvis Cole series, it’s Joe Pike. Guess I just like the bad boys. 😉

      • sabrina ogden

        December 20, 2010 - 10:31 am

        Nothing wrong with those bad boys!!! I think I like them more than I care to admit sometimes. It’s my perfect little world crashing down around me…I’m just not as good as I used to be.