The bodies of an elderly colonel and his comely young wife are discovered on the staircase of their stately plantation home, their blood still dripping down the wooden balustrades. Within the sheltered walls of Cottoncrest, Augustine and Rebecca Chastaine have met their deaths under the same shroud of mystery that befell the former owner, who had committed suicide at the end of the Civil War.Read more...
The bodies of an elderly colonel and his comely young wife are discovered on the staircase of their stately plantation home, their blood still dripping down the wooden balustrades. Within the sheltered walls of Cottoncrest, Augustine and Rebecca Chastaine have met their deaths under the same shroud of mystery that befell the former owner, who had committed suicide at the end of the Civil War. Locals whisper about the curse of Cottoncrest Plantation, an otherworldly force that has now taken three lives. But Sheriff Raifer Jackson knows that even a specter needs a mortal accomplice, and after investigating the crime scene, he concludes that the apparent murder/suicide is a double homicide, with local peddler Jake Gold as the prime suspect.
Assisted by his overzealous deputy, a grizzled Civil War physician, and the racist Knights of the White Camellia, the Sheriff directs a manhunt for Jake through a village of former slaves, the swamps of Cajun country, and the bordellos of New Orleans. But Jake's chameleon-like abilities enable him to elude his pursuers. As a peddler who has built relationships by trading fabric, needles, dry goods, and especially razor-sharp knives in exchange for fur, Jake knows the back roads of the small towns that dot the Mississippi River Delta. Additionally, his uncanny talent for languages allows him to pose as just another local, hiding his true identity as an immigrant Jew who fled Czarist-Russia.
Michael H. Rubin's The Cottoncrest Curse takes readers on the bold journey of Jake's flight within an epic sweep of treachery and family rivalry ranging from the Civil War to the civil rights era, as the impact of the 1893 murders ripples through the twentieth century and violence besets the owners of Cottoncrest into the 1960s.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-07-21
- Reviewer: Staff
Rubin’s gripping debut mystery depicts the bitter racial divides of post-Reconstruction South and its continuing legacy. The story begins in 1893 in Louisiana with the discovery of middle-aged colonel Augustine Chastaine’s corpse sprawled across the mutilated body of his much younger wife, Rebecca, in their home, Cottoncrest Plantation. The evidence seems to indicate murder/suicide; just two more victims of the “Cottoncrest Curse.” Sheriff Raifer Jackson, however, is canny enough to realize that he’s actually looking at a double murder. Unfortunately for Jewish peddler Jake Gold, his religion and acquaintance with the dead couple makes him an ideal scapegoat; even the help of his friends and allies may not be enough to get him out of Louisiana and save him from the rage of the white supremacist Knights of Camellia. Aside from clumsy flash-forwards to 1961 and the present day notwithstanding, Rubin has created a convincing, if unsympathetic, examination of the Old South. (Sept.)