This one is not so much forgotten as under appreciated. I only recently discovered Fulmer’s work through his 2008 non-series novel The Blue Door, which led me to immediately pick up his Shamus award winning Chasing the Devil’s Tail.
Jass is the follow up to Chasing the Devil’s Tail, and as such is the second outing for Creole private detective Valentin St. Cyr (pronounced Son Ser – I only know this from listening to a wonderful CD verison of another book in the series, Rampart Street). If anything, Jass is even more evocative and involving than its predecessor – a full, rich, compelling read, in which the earliest notes of jass (or jazz) resonate long after the last page is turned.
In the red-light district New Orleans, players of the new music they call "jass" have been turning up dead.
To Storyville detective Valentin St. Cyr, it's no surprise. These characters, mostly lowdown "rounders," walk on the wild side, working their rowdy music through the night and spending their days in excess that sets the tone for a hundred years of American musical mayhem to follow. Anyway, the Creole detective has his own problems. With his woman Justine drifting back to the life of a sporting girl, the last thing he needs is some tawdry distraction.
But this is Storyville, and nothing is ever quite as it seems. Once Valentin is persuaded to investigate, he discovers the deaths are not random at all, because every one of the victims once played in the same band. Four are dead, and the only one left alive has gone into hiding.
As he digs deeper, Valentin becomes convinced that a certain mysterious woman is the key to the mystery. He's digging too deep, though, and soon Tom Anderson, "The King of Storyville," police lieutenant J. Picot, and even the Chief of Police want him off the case. It's all the proof he needs that there is something larger and darker at the heart of this sordid business.
Indeed, this is a tale of dark secrets that lurk in the shadows of the New Orleans nights, under the painted faces of the sporting girls, and especially behind the loud, wild music that echoes up the scarlet streets.
"Jass" is a compelling sequel to David Fulmer's award-winning and critically-acclaimed "Chasing the Devil's Tail" - an even deeper and darker journey into the bloody and raucous miasma called Storyville.