Set in New Orleans in 1919
Based upon a real unsolved crime – when a killer dubbed, “the New Orleans Axeman” murdered several people between 1918-1919.
The story in a nutshell –
Journalist John Riley receives the now infamous letter supposedly from the Axman saying that he is to pass through the city but will spare anyone playing jazz music.
Now back to a few months prior to the letter being sent, with the murders having already started –many victims have already been found butchered, many of the Sicilian grocery store owners. The doors always seemed tp be locked from the inside proving mad theories to emerge as to who this axeman 2was some kind of phantom –
These explanations hadn’t stopped the press from painting the Axeman as some kind of Supernatural being with the ability to float through walls
Everyone wants to find out who this Axeman is and what exactly he wants. Detective Lieutenant Michael Talbot is one of them. He however has problems of his own and is considered a ‘rat’ for having given evidence against a fellow officer – Luca D’Andrea
D’Andrea, released after serving five years inside, used to work for the Mafia finds that he is still not a free man and that he owes someone big…
A lovely dual story was added by Ida who works at Pinkerton’s Detective Agency but barred by her gender and her race from joining the police.
Her tenacity and determination to get to the truth sees her start to investigate the Axeman in her own time, along with nineteen year old Lil’ Lewis Armstrong (eventually to become renamed as the great Louis Armstrong).
Professor Davis didn’t think much of Lewis when he first arrived – Lewis was from Liberty and Perdido, the worst two streets in New Orleans, and Professor David expected him to be nothing but trouble. So Lewis had to wait for six months before he was allowed to join the band for practice.
But the focus of the novel is of course the fear, the overriding sense that a real life Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is roaming the streets of New Orleans –
No-one hears anything, no-one sees anything. the killer leaves no clues. Except for the tarot cards, of course.
Police files are bursting at the seams with suggestions of who the killer might be –
Negro men flying through the air, eight foot tall Italians, Slavs with horned heads…
Nothing concrete until a letter arrives. a letter supposedly from the Axeman himself, telling of his next killing spree – the letter contains some important clues and points to what New Orleans has already witnesses and what it is about to – (snippets below)
Hell, March 13, 1919
They have never caught me and they never will.
I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.
When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company.
If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship with the Angel of Death.
Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to pass over New Orleans. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a little proposition to you people. Here it is:
I am very fond of jazz music. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.
New Orleans might well spiral into the greatest night it had ever seen…come back for the Booktrail of the Axeman tomorrow……