Baronne Street

00:00 November 21, 2011
By: Dionne Charlet

Baronne Street

by Kent Westmoreland
258 pages
Published by Create Space Self Publishing
Review by Dionne Charlet

Kent Westmoreland's "Baronne Street" is a bold first effort. Wit and spunk prevail. Detective Burleigh Drummond is high society and low emotion, materialistic yet generous, sure of himself and well paid for it all. The City of New Orleans is Drummond's "Hawaii 5-0" meets "Miami Vice" on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."

The book reads not so much as a local's map of neighborhood haunts, but a transplant's ideal of the city's mythic high society. Thugs rule over drug dealers and hookers. Gays and lesbians fall victim to an oppressing mafia.

The main character's love life is a little too casual for the comfort of this reader, yet my reaction says a lot for Westmoreland's talent for characterization. Burleigh - or Burr as he is nicknamed by equally engaging supporting characters - reminds me of the masculine ideal of the 60s. Sean Connery was just as sure of himself. Like Dick Tracy, this guy knows his city. Drummond is the detective version of Mad Men's Don Draper.

Coco Robichaux is memorable enough even if you don't judge a book by its cover. Westmoreland borrowed the name from the famous NOLA musician born in Ascension Parish, added enough lipstick and feminine allure to hook the wandering eye of his protagonist, then had her murdered to make things interesting.

The author hails from North Carolina. Eventually, he moved to New Orleans, and his work as an investment banker seems to have impressed upon him that the city has her own version of elite. Baronne Street is a trip through crime scenes of the super rich. Writing precariously through the depths of a city rich in culture, Westmoreland invites his reader to indulge in the rebirth of style.

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