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The Axeman's Jazz by Ray Celestin
  

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Shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2015.

So, so much more than just a crime novel, this beautifully written tale, inspired by real events that took place in New Orleans during 1919, weaves a hypnotic web of intrigue, tension and suspense. New Orleans struts and parades her way through the story, the author brings not only the city but also the time and people vividly to life. A musically talented Mr Armstrong makes an appearance, alongside The Mob, Voodou and a chilling letter from the real killer written in May 1919. The murders that scatter the pages are secondary to the reasons the three main characters need to find the Axeman. The author doesn't flinch from the horrors of the killings, however this isn’t a gore filled parade, there is a lilting, soulful, expressive quality to the writing which creates a captivating tale just oozing in atmosphere. ~ Liz Robinson


The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. With such unlikely figures as Oscar Wilde being dragooned into crime fiction as sleuths, perhaps jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong is not such a stretch. Ray Celestin’s debut novel places Louis as one of a group on the trail of a serial axe murderer in early 20th-century New Orleans. Sporting an acute sense of period, shored up by an evocation of the sound of early jazz – no easy thing on the page – The Axeman’s Jazz gleaned the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger for Best Debut Crime Novel of the Year.
~ The Good Book Guide

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Synopsis

The Axeman's Jazz by Ray Celestin

Shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2015.

WINNER of the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger for Best Debut Crime Novel of the Year. As recommended on the Radio 2 Arts Show with Claudia Winkleman New Orleans, 1919. As music fills the city, a serial killer strikes ...New Orleans, 1919. As a dark serial killer - The Axeman - stalks the city, three individuals set out to unmask him ...Though every citizen of the 'Big Easy' thinks they know who could be behind the terrifying murders, Detective Lieutenant Michael Talbot, heading up the official investigation, is struggling to find leads. But Michael has a grave secret, and if he doesn't get himself on the right track fast, it could be exposed ...Former detective Luca d'Andrea has spent the last six years in Angola state penitentiary, after Michael, his protegee, blew the whistle on his corrupt behaviour. Now a newly freed man, Luca is back working with the mafia, whose need to solve the mystery of the Axeman is every bit as urgent as that of the authorities. Meanwhile, Ida is a secretary at the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and dreaming of a better life, Ida stumbles across a clue which lures her and her musician friend, Louis Armstrong, to the case - and into terrible danger ...As Michael, Luca and Ida each draw closer to discovering the killer's identity, the Axeman himself will issue a challenge to the people of New Orleans: play jazz or risk becoming the next victim. And as the case builds to its crescendo, the sky will darken and a great storm will loom over the city ...Inspired by a true story, THE AXEMAN'S JAZZ, set against the heady backdrop of jazz-filled, mob-ruled New Orleans, is an ambitious, gripping thriller announcing a major new talent in historical crime fiction.

Reviews

'Debut novelist Ray Celestin has based his beguiling crime thriller on the true story of a serial killer who terrorised New Orleans for more than a year after the First World War. Beautifully written, the evocative prose brings the jazz-filled, mob-ruled 'Big Easy of pre-prohibition America to life in glorious effect with a story full of suspense and intrigue. Stunning' Sunday Express

'A rewarding crime novel, swinging its way to a terrifying denouement with all the panache of a New Orleans marching band. This is an excellent debut, with a promise of more good mysteries to come.' The Times

'Celestin smartly evokes the atmosphere of 1919 New Orleans, and a city dominated by music and the mob. Gripping.' Sunday Times

'Inspired by the serial killer thought to have been responsible for 12 murders in New Orleans between 1918 and 1919, Ray Celestin's first novel, The Axeman's Jazz initially stays close to the known facts and includes a letter, published in the newspapers at the time, which was supposedly sent by the original Axeman. The writer, who, like the author of the famous 1888 Jack the Ripper letter, gives his address as Hell , promises to claim his next victim at a specific date and time but says that he will spare those in whose home a jazz band is in full swing . As with the Ripper, the real killer's identity remains unknown, and Celestin has three characters struggling to work out who he or she might be. Detective lieutenant Michael Talbot heads the official investigation; his former partner, Luca d'Andrea, recently freed from prison for corruption, is tasked by the mafia to discover whodunnit; and 19-year-old Sherlock Holmes fan Ida Davis, a secretary for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, decides to branch out on her own ... Both a fascinating portrait of a vibrant and volatile city and a riveting read.' Guardian

'Debut novelist Ray Celestin harnesses his trained scriptwriting eye for drama with the fascinating real-life story of the terrifying, Tarot card-touting Axeman in this atmospheric, high-tension thriller set in the broiling heat of the Deep South city that became the birthplace of jazz. Blending music, history and crime, Celestin builds a wickedly seductive and gripping tale as three people - one aided and abetted by a young, cornet-playing Louis Armstrong - set out to unmask the serial killer. The Axeman's Jazz was always going to be an ambitious project... delving deep into a true crime, blending a network of real and fictional characters and painting a portrait of an energetic, cosmopolitan city blighted by corruption and racism is a daunting challenge. But Celestin, the new kid on the block, has proved himself more than equal to the task. Using exceptional scene setting, zippy dialogue, a notably gutsy female lead and a mesmerising sense of time and place, he gets to the cruel heart of a savage crime and the musical soul of a sultry city ... This is a thriller which doesn't just ask whodunit but why do the hunters need to know whodunit, and with the door left ajar for a sequel, we can look forward to more from this intriguing, intrepid author.' Lancashire Evening Post

'This debut thriller pulses with the beat of New Orleans in 1919 when a real-life killer stalked the Big Easy, and was never caught. Now Celestin creates a thriller that's evocative of a city where voodoo and trad jazz go hand in hand in the back alleys off Basin Street.' Peterborough Telegraph

About the Author

Ray Celestin lives in London. He studied Asian art and languages at university and is a script writer for film and TV, as well as publishing several short stories. The Axeman's Jazz is his first novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

23rd April 2015

Author

Ray Celestin

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Publisher

Pan Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan

Format

Paperback
464 pages
Interest Age: From 18 years

Categories

Crime / Mystery
Thriller / Suspense
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Historical mysteries

ISBN

9781447258889

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