Cover image for The neon smile : a novel
The neon smile : a novel
Lochte, Dick.
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Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [1995]

Physical Description:
332 pages ; 25 cm
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When Terry Manion, the New Orleans private investigator introduced in Blue Bayou, agrees to work for Pierre Reynaldo, the king of exploitation TV, he doesn't have a clue about what he's getting into. Reynaldo wants to reopen a case the police slammed shut thirty years ago - the racially motivated murder of Tyrone Pano, a black militant leader. But the more Manion learns about the case, the more personal it becomes. Both Manion's father and his revered mentor, J. J. Legendre, had ties to Pano that might have been better left buried. The Neon Smile takes the reader back to 1965, a fateful year for J. J. Legendre. It is then that Legendre, a young and cynical homicide detective, tackles both the Pano case and a series of brutal murders committed by a killer as clever as he is cold-blooded. Each victim is found with a voodoo doll, the signature previously employed by a nineteenth-century murderer known as the Meddler. Legendre connects past and present to end the Meddler's new reign of terror. But things are never what they seem in the Big Easy, and three decades later Manion must make a couple of connections his mentor missed - between the Meddler killings and the Pano case, between the violent unrest of the sixties and today's more subtle racial politics.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The Meddler was a New Orleans serial killer who was shot and killed by cop J. J. Legendre in 1965. In present-day New Orleans, private eye Terry Manion, who once worked for the late Legendre, is hired by a TV producer to research the case for a special on serial killers. Readers actually get two novels in one here. Paralleling the lengthy, third-person account of Legendre's search for the killer three decades ago in a New Orleans teeming with racial tension, there is Manion's investigation into what he feels were loose ends in a case closed a little too quickly. Recontacting the surviving principals from Legendre's investigation, Manion uncovers a whole new level of intrigue and finds himself questioning the actions of his late mentor. A subtle, intricately plotted novel in which past and present are linked to solve a crime and enable the hero to come to terms with his memory of his friend. --Wes Lukowsky

Publisher's Weekly Review

Wrapping a 30-year-old investigation inside a contemporary case, Lochte (Sleeping Dog; Blue Bayou) more than doubles the cerebral challenges and literary pleasures in this second appearance of New Orleans PI Terry Manion. A self-described ``Henry James sort of guy in a Howard Stern world,'' Manion is hired by a TV producer to unearth details of the 1965 story of black militant cult leader Tyrone Pano. But he finds himself holding the threads of a pair of mysteries once handled by his own mentor, J.J. Legendre. In a 34-chapter flashback, J.J. is seen embroiled in the ramifications of Pano's arrest for the murder of an FBI plant, while supposedly solving the serial murder case of the Meddler, an imitator of a Marie Laveau voodoo-era killer. As Manion exhumes this latter puzzle, he finds some of the principals still alive and lethal, busy covering their tracks in cases current and historical. Over a dozen richly drawn characters populate this story‘from a madame-turned-PI to a black artist who renders Mona Lisa in neon‘all set against the delightfully grotesque and corrupt backdrops of 1965 and 1995 New Orleans. Chockful of dark humor, wordplay and subtle clues, the novel is rich enough to reward multiple readings. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Like many police procedurals, this title utilizes the peculiar microcosm of a well-known city. New Orleans private detective Terry Manion, hired by a television producer to research the 30-year-old murder of a black cult figure's girlfriend, the man's subsequent jail suicide, and allegations of FBI involvement, gets the lowdown from a former madam turned private eye. The narrative that follows returns the reader to 1965 as it details undisclosed aspects of the murder (including machinations of a serial murderer) and convinces Manion of continued corruption. Exceptional, tightly constructed work, with great characterization, from the author of Blue Bayou (Ivy, 1993). For all fiction collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.