Friday, October 19, 2012

Hell or High Water by Joy Castro

by:  Joy Castro
published by:  Thomas Dunne Books
published date:  July 17, 2012

Nola Céspedes, an ambitious young reporter at the Times-Picayune, finally catches a break: an assignment to write her first full-length feature. While investigating her story, she also becomes fixated on the search for a missing tourist in the French Quarter. As Nola’s work leads her into a violent criminal underworld, she’s forced to face disturbing truths from her own past and is confronted with the question: In the aftermath of devastation, who is responsible for rebuilding what's been broken?
Hell or High Water is a book I ended up having a lot of mixed feelings about.  On one hand, it was a pretty decent mystery.  On the other, there were way too many political messages forced upon the reader.  I also never particularly cared for the main character.
In Hell or High Water, Nola is working at the Times-Picayune.  She gets tasked with finding out what happened with all the sexual predators that never were never heard from again after Hurricane Katrina.  She ties this assignment with the search for a missing woman.  She spends most of the book interviewing sexual offenders and a doctor dealing with PTSD and hanging out with her girlfriends.
Nola is very left-wing.  The book is full of accusations regarding Katrina, during, after and years later.  I'm always wary of Katrina books, because I live in Louisiana and the issue of Katrina and the aftermath always makes people crazy.  The book is asking who is responsible for rebuilding.  I think most people have dealt with it and have moved on.  These kinds of books just bring all those feelings back for people.  If writers could deal with just Katrina and not bring their politics into the story, it would make for a much better story.
Nola was also a psychological mess.  Because of her past, a past she hasn't dealt with, she's acting out in ways that most people wouldn't really approve of.  She engages in sex with strangers frequently.  She's always drinking and hung over.  Nola wasn't a character that was very pleasant to read about.
I read the book all the way through mainly because I wanted to know who the killer was.  Other than the mystery, there wasn't much else that interested me about the book.  I might pass on a recommendation for this book for someone that wants to read about New Orleans and Katrina, but would be able to see past the political platform.

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