Where History Meets Mystery
By Ray Saadi—Book Editor
EMPIRE OF SIN By Gary Krist, Crown, $26.00
Krist has written a well-researched history of the rise and demise of the famed New Orleans’ Storyville, named for councilman Sidney Story, much to his dismay. Despite the ax killing of a married couple in their bed and the murder of the popular police chief, the crime-ridden section of the city prospered without interference from authorities. Tom Anderson, the “unofficial Mayor of Storyville” ruled over the unconstrained corruption and crime in that 18-block section. As he began to lose his grip, a surprising new sound was heard from the cornet of Buddy Bolden, a sound that came to be called “jazz.” This is a fabulously rich and colorful chronicle of New Orleans at the turn of the century.
AN OFFICER AND A SPY By Robert Harris, Knopf, $27.95
Mark this down as one of the most exciting works of historical fiction you’ll ever read. All characters are real persons, the principal being Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer in the French army who was wrongfully convicted of treason on flimsy evidence. He is publically humiliated before a jeering crowd and sent to Devil’s Island to die alone. But the narrator, Colonel Georges Picquart, takes center stage initially believing Dreyfus guilty but subsequently discovering evidence that proves him innocent and exposes the true traitor. Despite orders from virtually every superior to abandon the case, Picquart risks everything including his career to correct the injustice done to Dreyfus.