Richard Gazala's Reviews > Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water by Joy Castro
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Jul 18, 12

Read in July, 2012

Some scars never heal, but not all. Some will start to heal when forced. That's the theme of author Joy Castro's well-written and provocative new thriller, "Hell or High Water." This dark novel is set in New Orleans in 2008, three years after Katrina savaged the city and everyone in it. It's a tale of self-discovery and redemption centering on New Orleans Times-Picayune style section reporter Nola Cespedes. Nola is a fiercely independent young woman, armed to the teeth with a Tulane journalism degree but not quite sure how to use it. She has a deep understanding of her hometown wrought from being raised nights in its dangerous Desire Projects by her single mother (a refugee from Fidel Castro's Cuba), while spending her childhood days in an expensive private Catholic school in the French Quarter courtesy of an educational grant. Grown up and longing to leave New Orleans for the seemingly brighter pastures of Manhattan and The New York Times, Nola is ecstatic when she lands an important assignment to write her first full-length feature --- a piece on what happened to New Orleans's sexual predators and their victims in Katrina's disastrous aftermath. Done well, the story could be her golden ticket out of New Orleans. But first she must complete her research and writing about rapacious monsters haunting the wounded city while a female tourist ominously disappears from the French Quarter in broadest daylight. In an increasingly desperate struggle against New Orleans' devils, and her own, Nola battles to unearth stories that have no desire to be pried from their grim hideaways.
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