David Fulmer – Chasing The Devil’s Tail
Chasing The Devil’s Tail
(Poisoned Pen Press – 2001)
by S.H. Watkins, Sr.
Chasing the Devil’s Tail is an interesting and engaging murder-mystery set in turn-of-the-century New Orleans’ red light district…Storyville. David Fulmer has managed to weave a taste of actual history and fiction together to create a tale Populated by hookers, gamblers, drug users and juke joints. In this underbelly of the city a serial killer has begun murdering local prostitutes, marking each kill with a black rose. Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr is called in by one of the local money men to investigate this ongoing string of murders, and it seems the number one suspect is his pal Buddy ‘King’ Bolden, a heavy-drinking horn player and the inventor of a new music called ‘jass’.
As the murders continue, Valentin’s investigation leads him through a cast of characters that include Ferdinand Le Menthe, the young piano player who would come to be known as Jelly Roll Morton, Lulu White, a most notorious Madam and later an inspiration for Mae West’s persona and Tom Smith, the secretive boss-man that seems to have both hired St. Cyr and been a hindrance to his efforts. The trail of the serial killer cleverly leads the reader (and Valentin) through a clever cast of characters on a trail that stretches from the depth of storyville’s gamblers and whores to the local government and even seems to involve members of the local clergy before resolving in an ending that is both satisfying and surprising.