Review: Big Karma in the Big Easy by D.J. Donaldson

Big Karma in the Big Easy
D.J. Donaldson

Andy Broussard, the plump and proud New Orleans medical examiner, obviously loves food. Less apparent to the casual observer is his hatred of murderers. Together with his gorgeous sidekick, psychologist Kit Franklyn, the two make a powerful, although improbable, mystery-solving duo. Among the dead collected in The Big Easy floodwaters after Hurricane Katrina are three nude female bodies, all caught in the same brush tangle, none with water in their lungs. Broussard knows in his ample gut that this was not an act of God, and not the work of Katrina. But Broussard has perhaps the biggest challenge of his colorful career. The city and all its records are destroyed, practically the entire population is scattered, the police force has no offices, and many of the rank and file (who haven't defected) are homeless. Soon, Broussard and his sidekick are on a dangerous journey through the obscenely damaged city, leading them to a kind of evil that neither of them could imagine.

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 My Voracious Review:
This is my first Donaldson murder mystery so far, and I have to say I would definitely return to read more of his stories. Though Bad Karma in the Big Easy started off at a tolerable consistent pace, it took a good part of the first half of the book to really grab me. After that, I couldn’t stop reading. The story pulls out many twists, turns and surprises, it kept me flipping each page, eager to find out what would happen next. I especially appreciated the rich detail of the devastation of New Orleans. It’s raw, descriptive and makes the desolation of the area incredibly real as we follow along and discover a killer in hiding.

A formulaic murder/mystery, Bad Karma in the Big Easy follows a tightknit group of medical examiners and detectives led by the Andy Broussard, the lead Medical Examiner. Along with his sidekick psychologist Kit Franklyn, they are an unlikely team, but complement each other well. Following the destruction left in Hurricane Katrina’s wake across New Orleans, this dynamic duo along with some quirky yet hilarious friends: Phil Gatlin-a fellow investigator and some loveable locals follow the clues they discover from three bodies, which were pulled from a brush pile and delivered to the temporary morgue where the Medical Examiner’s crew currently works. 

Along the way, Broussard and Kit discover these were no ordinary drownings. The tiny clues they manage to scrape up from the victims and a trail of mystery, deceit, and some horrible facts turn the case into not only one that hits really close to home for the team, but one that could kill them all. Stuffed full of shootings, uncooperative witnesses, alligators, and a foe who’s more conniving than they’d anticipated, this story has it all, and it could cost these detectives their lives.

An intriguing mystery that takes the reader through the mystery step by step to experience an insider’s look as a medical examiner pieces together the clues from dead bodies and turns into field detective in the process. The action in the second half never stops and the array of characters are quaint and hard to let go. A great introduction to an intricate storyteller.

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.
4/5 Stars

Author Bio:
Don Donaldson, who also writes as D. J. Donaldson, holds a Ph.D. in human anatomy. In his professional career, he has taught microscopic anatomy to over 5,000 medical and dental students and published dozens of research papers on wound healing. He is also the author of seven published forensic mysteries and five medical thrillers. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee with his wife and two West Highland terriers.
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