Baker & Taylor Returning to New Orleans after ten years, Thea Tamborella tries to renew old friendships, but discovers a climate of fear and prejudice
Blackwell North Amer When Thea Tamborella returns to New Orleans after a ten-year absence, she finds the city of her birth changed, still a place of deep contradictions, a sensuous blend of religion, tradition, bonhomie, and decadence, but now caught in a web of fear caused by bad economic times, crime, and racial unrest. Many residents have sought to avoid the city's problems by fleeing to the suburbs. The wealthy who have remained in the inner city hide behind the walls of homes protected by elaborate security systems. The poor live in decaying neighborhoods and in tenements taken over by drug dealers. Fear of race riots following the murder of a white policeman and the subsequent police terrorization of the all-black housing project where he was killed are dividing the city even further. Thea herself learned the meaning of fear when her life was uprooted after the murder of her parents in their grocery store. She left New Orleans when she grew up but returns there to claim the Garden District mansion she has inherited from her aunt. It is in this great old Victorian house that she encounters a childhood friend she had been forbidden to associate with, Burgess Monroe, the son of her aunt's housekeeper. She is drawn to this now powerful and mysterious man, even though she senses that he may hold dangerous secrets. At the same time, Thea is renewing friendships with her old high-school crowd: Bobby Buchanan, a former boyfriend who is still in love with her, and Lyle and Sandy Hindermann, wealthy blue-bloods. Like many other New Orleanians, Lyle and some of his circle are carrying guns, arming themselves against their perceived enemies. But Lyle has gone one step further: he has become a reserve policeman and a fanatic about law and order. Caught up in the hunt for his fellow officer's killer, he follows a trail that leads him to Burgess' friend Dexter and Dexter's girlfriend, Sherree Morganza, an out-of-work stripper and single mother. It is a case of mistaken identity that ends with brutal and senseless death. Thea, overwhelmed by the violence and mistrust that swirl around her, torn by conflicting passions, finally must come to terms with her own life: with the murder of her parents, with her attraction to Burgess, and ultimately, with a growing conviction that she knows who the real enemy is.