The Krewe by Seth Pevey
”When you run over a human being with a train, there isn’t so much as a bump for those people riding or conducting inside the cars themselves. People are just too soft, and trains too hard and inestimably heavy. It might as well be mud under the flanged steel.”
When Felix Herbert, the frequently stoned underachiever, finds out his older brother Robert, the always overachieving doctor, has committed suicide, he doesn’t believe it for even one millisecond. When he discovers that his brother was wearing an angel corkscrew mask before he stepped out in front of that train, there is no doubt in his mind that his brother was trying to leave a clue to lead him to the truth.
Who and what drove Robert beneath the wheels of a train?
Fortunately, Detective Melancon is on the case. ”Detective Melancon was old and thin. His clothes fitted poorly and were of a forgotten color. But his eyes were bright, pale blue, piercing, and his mouth seemed far from tired. He cleared his throat and sat down.” His sixty-two year old body might remind him all too often that his best years are a distant memory, but his mind, honed by experience, is still as sharp as a butcher’s blade.
The Herbert legacy was made in pork, and as Felix begins to wield the power of his family to open those doors, closed to most of New Orleans society, he will need the steady hand of the honor-fixated Herbert family butler, Tomas De Valencia to help guide him. Felix, in his obsessive search for the truth, can quickly become mired in trouble so deep that even the Herbert fortune won’t be able to distract him.
Everyone Felix knows has been wanting him to grow up and accept the responsibility his family position has made possible for him, but now, with needing justice for his brother, he will have to finally become the man that everyone has been waiting for him to become.
And who is driving the black Plymouth that keeps following him all over town?
Felix may not have trained in the medical field, but with spending several years trying various illicit and prescription drugs to keep a hazy barrier between him and real life, he has a working knowledge of the effectiveness of most drugs. When he finds a drug called Scopodol is part of the swirling mists surrounding his brother’s death, he knows this is the clue that could lead him to the killer.
How does all this tie into a carnivale organization called The Krewe?
If his brother’s death is a suicide, who exactly keeps chasing him all over New Orleans? Felix has to discover skills he never knew he had. ”How to Survive a Foot Chase in 1000 Quick Steps.” He can tell he is getting closer to the truth by the level of interest that is being paid to his actions.
Tomas, Melancon, and Felix might not be Hollywood casting for the three musketeers, but together they prove to be a relentless trio against the diabolical schemes of the most ambitious and fiendishly driven villain I’ve met in a long time. It will take the combined efforts of all of them to have a chance to bring Robert’s killers to justice.
I caught up with the author, Seth Pevey, lounging in his hammock, under a Spanish moss draped Bald Cypress tree, sipping a Hurricane with... fortunately... no storm clouds on the horizon.
Jeffrey D. Keeten: Tell me a bit about where the inspiration to write The Krewe came from?
Seth Pevey:New Orleans Mardi Gras is a big deal, to put it lightly. The entire city shuts down for days, and most of the elite, old-money families are deeply tied in with its machinations, one way or the other. Local nabobs wear masks, drink out of flasks, ride horses down the main thoroughfare of the city while being hailed by the crowds. I always thought, watching those parades growing up, that the situation was just so ripe for mystery and intrigue. Who are those people behind the masks? What is going on behind the scenes of this incredibly expensive, excruciatingly planned party? Therein were the seeds of "The Krewe.”
JDK:I found the characters of Tomas and Melancon to be much more interesting than your main protagonist. That could be because I am older and love to see wisdom being appreciated over, say, youthful enthusiasm. What are your plans for those two characters going forward?
SP:Melancon is the main focus of book #2, Roots of Misfortune, and really kind of the main character of the series, despite how things open in the first book. Tomas, as you've hinted at, is meant to be the sort of moral bedrock of the crazy, chaotic NOLA of the novels. I can't say much more than that without spoiling what I have planned, but know that both older characters will be dispensing their wisdom in more adventures to come.
JDK:With the voracious, Kindle loving readers chewing through books like a beaver on amphetamines, do you have any plans to write some short pieces, say a 1.5 or a 2.5, to keep your series in front of them while you write the third novel?
SP:At least the beaver would eventually burn out! I see the Kindle market only getting bigger and more voracious as time goes by. I do have some plans for short, free (or .99c) novellas, which may be prequels or dive more deeply into particular characters. But, I'm not one of these writers who can churn out a book every eight weeks, unfortunately. So, I may end up just taking the hit to sales in order to produce the quality that I need to satisfy myself. I do seem to be getting faster as momentum and experience build and have some pretty ambitious plans for the future.
JDK:Lena Troxclair is a great villainous character. You've combined beauty and the beast into one person, which is frequently confusing to people who meet her. Is she beautiful, or is she horribly disfigured? Tell me about how that character evolved in your mind?
SP:The villain is always secretly my favorite character in a thriller/mystery, particularly if they are done well. For me, the best villains were always coming out of left field-- those that made you drop your guard and then stabbed you in the back. Lena has a beautiful face, but a disfigured body with a bit of a hunchback. That beauty is only a mask. It's nothing but a weapon in itself. The idea of "face" played largely into my construction of her: a person who places all their energy on controlling what you see when you look at them, while secretly hiding something toxic on the inside.
JDK:If you were working in a bookstore, what section would you shelve The Krewe? The young adult market is exploding right now. I came away thinking this could work well as a YA book, given the morality, good versus evil, no steamy sex scenes, or gory violence parameters of the plot.
SP:I don't like gore for gore sake, or sex for sex sake, in books or film. At the same time, I think some of the themes in my work (drug addiction, the darkness of humanity, the futility of resisting death and decay) might not lend "The Krewe" to a kid's summer reading list. I still hope they'd read it (and other dark, disturbing books) because all those things do exist and are going to have to be dealt with at some point in a kid's life. I sure read the darkest stuff I could get my hands on when I was a kid and relished every second of it. To answer your question more directly though, the book is written to be in the thriller/mystery section, and hopefully one day to sit in it's place in the "local fiction" section that's in every independent NOLA bookshop. That's the dream.
JDK:Speaking of no steamy sex scenes, there were no romantic entanglements in the book. I haven't read the second book yet, but do you have plans to bring romantic interests into the plots of the series?
SP:Absolutely-- Roots of Misfortune will definitely satisfy if you enjoy a little romance with your mysterious deaths and disappearances. I tend not to like romantic subplots all that much, but the characters led me there, and I couldn't say no to them.
JDK:What other interests besides writing do you have? I've heard rumors that you are a Cleaner for the mob, which must be exciting. By denying it, you are confirming it.
SP:I talk far too much to work for the mob. I bought an old house in the country and have been fixing it up, learning all that's involved with that, and really enjoying it. I also read a lot, obviously. I have a nice treadmill parked in front of Netflix as well, and that is something I'd recommend to anyone who loves story but feels guilty about binging. Besides that, I work in the family business (real estate) and make frequent trips down the road to New Orleans with my wife for the food, music, and festivals.
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