Howard (Simon and Shuster), May 2009, $
Lawyer Camille St. James works for the Truth Project, an organization whose mission is to get innocent people off death row and out of prison. Their latest success story is Chester Pelham, a man with low intelligence who was convicted of killing socialite Stephanie Hill in Blue Bayou New Orleans. After new evidence surfaced, the Louisiana Governor pardoned Chester. However during the news conference, a reporter blindsides Camille with the news that Chester was arrested in the death of Luanne Richard.
To make matters personal, the victim is Camille’s former sister-in-law. She has not seen her former husband Jack in seven years, but heads to Blue Bayou to make a condolence call. Jack has come a long way from driving drunk and running over Camille’s student as he is now a pastor. He blasts her for freeing Chester, but she defends herself and furthermore insists he is innocent. She intends to prove Chester did not kill Luanne. Someone makes two attempts on killing Camille, which shakes Jack up as he agrees to help her find the real culprit. As their love reignites, she does not have his faith and has doubts about ever forgiving him for what he did to them even as the killer waits for the right moment.
BLOOD BAYOU is an exciting suspense thriller with a romantic subplot that fits perfectly into the main storyline. The heroine is dedicated to insure justice occurs as she works for what is the equivalent to the Freedom Project; however that same obstinacy that is so helpful in her vocation prevents her from forgiving Jack who desperately wants a second chance. Although the theme of a stalking killer in the lurk is old, Karen Young refreshes it with the Truth project, strong characterizations especially the star-crossed lead pair, and a terrific whodunit rivaling the suspense of Mary Higgins Clark.