Reviewed by Heather R.
A Quarter After Tuesday by
"[Readers will] enjoy a cross-cultural tale with a surprising and thought-provoking, heart-tugging ending..."
Jonna Lightfoot McLaughlan is back! But this time she's plunged from the mile-high city to below sea-level in the steamy streets of New Orleans. But she's still on the religion beat, still on the lookout for good news and a good man. Jo Kadlecek recaptures the blend of charm and social commentary from "A Mile From Sunday" in this second book in the Lightfoot Trilogy called "A Quarter After Tuesday." Kadlecek also does a remarkable job of immersing readers in the Crescent City to the point that readers can feel confident that if they stopped by the city today they could successfully navigate the streets and communicate in the Cajun English of the locals. Her central story this time - involving nursing homes, racial troubles, and political machinery - is grounded in the local milieu of this Southern, French- and Cajun-influenced urban landscape, yet expands to express troubles that can happen anywhere in any place.
Along with her middle brother, Mark RunningWind, and a colorful cast of local characters, including the voodoo-practicing mouth of Mama God, Ms. E, the fortune-telling PennyAnne, the drop-dead gorgeous community pillar Reginald William Hancock the Third (Renn), and her editor and colleagues at the "New Orleans Banner," Jonna Lightfoot gets dangerously involved in a possible murder case at an interracial nursing home in the middle of a proposed business district. The plot begins at a leisurely Southern pace with moments for reflection at her newspaper desk located alphabetically next to real estate reporter Rufus Ezekiel Denton (Red) and at Harmony Interfaith Senior (HIS) Manor with Red's Auntie Belle, 94 years young. But once Jonna finds out about a resident's recent unexpected death and begins dating Renn, the pace picks up and races, sweatily, to a stunning conclusion. Along the way there are visitations of the Virgin Mary crying tears down an oak tree in this very Catholic of cities as well as the unwanted reappearance of an old family friend.
Kadlecek does a good job of creating a self-contained story in her New Orleans locale while both making references to Lightfoot's past escapades in Denver and setting the stage for her future exploits (we assume) in New York City for the final book in the Lightfoot trilogy. Readers can therefore confidently pick up "A Quarter After Tuesday" and enjoy a cross-cultural tale with a surprising and thought-provoking, heart-tugging ending having no knowledge of Jonna from the first book. Of course, after reading about her hopelessly frizzy hair and equally frustrating love life, readers will want to go back and catch up with this down-to-earth heroine in time for her next adventure.
In addition to getting a great story, readers who purchase "A Quarter After Tuesday" will also have the privilege of helping to rebuild this unique American city because Kadlecek states that "all the royalties from the sale of this book will go to charities and ministries in New Orleans." So what are you waiting for?
Heather R. Hunt is a business editor in Connecticut. For fun she reads, writes, cheers on the Red Sox, and enjoys tennis and cycling. She also co-leads a local tea party and enjoys holding government officials and media outlets accountable. Check out her blogs, The View from Stonewater and Connecticut for Sarah Palin.