A fascinating new character makes an entrance in Alice Wilson-Fried’s Outside Child (Komenar, $24.95). In pre-Katrina New Orleans, we meet Ladonis Washington, the sole black employee in an otherwise all-white public relations firm. Ambitious to a fault, she attempts to ignore hints of the firm’s double-dealings, but when a friend gets chewed up in the blades of an excursion paddle wheeler, she finally decides to investigate. Attempting to help, but just as often muddying the already-stagnant waters, is Ladonis’dope-smoking brother, Heart Trouble, a man not averse to running a few scams of his own.
Heavy on atmosphere and character, Child evokes a New Orleans that is, sadly, no longer there. But in these pages, all the wiles and woes of the seductive city are trotted out as Ladonis prowls its now-vanished streets and waterways, experiencing its crumbling tenements and moss-draped oaks, glorying in the city’s spicy gumbo of blacks, whites, Cajuns, Creoles, Indians, and alligators. Ladonis makes such a memorable debut that I hope this outside child (slang for illegitimate) returns soon to stick it to The Man.
Mystery Scene Magazine
Issue No. 102, Holiday 2007