Praise for The Russian Bride:
“Brisk, easy-to-read thriller.”
“Quick, entertaining action.”
Praise for Burnt Black:
“Although he’s officially employed by the New Orleans Police Department as a detective, Cliff St. James (Good Junk, 2012, etc.) only works cases that are considered to be five-alarm. These high-profile murders come into the department’s purview considerably more than once in a blue moon, and Police Chief Pointer wants to make sure things are kept under wraps when they do. When St. James and partner Honey Baybee are called to an unusual death scene, St. James suspects that there may be foul play involved, but Honey disagrees. The involvement of local professor and world-class occultist Dr. Robert Drake makes Chief Pointer wary that the investigation will be susceptible to bad press, and he orders St. James and Honey to get to the bottom of things fast. Investigating the world of New Orleans voodoo leads the two to what may be the inner workings of a Mexican drug cartel, and the mounting body count adds to their sense that their investigation has been cursed. Worse still, St. James and Honey’s disagreements about the fundamentals of the case begin to affect their relationship with one another, which St. James has always hoped could be more than a friendship.
“The vibrant description of occult doings mixes well with the movements of the earthbound characters, making this Cliff and Honey’s best outing to date.” —KIRKUS
“Cliff St. James is a homicide detective in New Orleans, land of voodoo, hoodoo, and Papa LaBas, and when he and his partner walk in on what looks like murder by supernatural forces, he knows not to get all rational. He’s seen some mighty strange stuff, so maybe logic is just one way of looking at things.
“Soon he’s a mark for the shamans, and when a devil-dog attacks out of nowhere and a death-dream nearly kills him and he’s stalked by a creature of the night, the question is, Did the devil do it? Fortunately, his partner, a knockout blond with a name that might startle Ian Fleming—Honey Baybee—stands foursquare on the ground and prods him into being the lead detective. Still, what was that presence in the room when murder happened?
“What lingers after the demons are downed is St. James’ obliquely funny personality. A fine, offbeat procedural.” —Booklist
Praise for Good Junk:
Publisher’s Weekly reviews Good Junk.
Read Ed’s Interview with Publisher’s Weekly.
“…a compelling investigation into the world of a high end “Buyers Club” of black projects goods that mixes a healthy dose of high-end government agents with rogues from around the world… many twists and turns… but it’s well worth trying to find the way.” –KIRKUS
“Kovacs maintains a fast pace, and his descriptions of a steamy, seamy, badly managed city that is failing to recover from Katrina are jolting… Good Junk has plenty of action—and high-tech gadgetry…” –BOOKLIST
“The action in “Good Junk” is fast and filled with multiple puzzles for St. James and his would-be lover to solve. A multitude of stealth gadgets, security gizmos and exploding pens worthy of James Bond are employed by St. James in the process.” –ASSOCIATED PRESS
“…the scenes of New Orleans are rich and real. Kovacs hopeless, elegiac vision of the city is touching, and his quick studies of hidden landmarks like the outré bar in the French Quarter that calls itself Pravda, and Pampy’s, a purveyor of soul food to politicians, are written with true affection and terrific humor.” –THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
Praise for Storm Damage:
Storm Damage gets seal of approval! I’ve worked with Ed Kovacs on several security contract details, including in New Orleans. This is a dynamic, page-turning thriller, a tale of murder and mystery, post-Katrina. –Danny Jones, retired U.S. Navy Seal.
BOOKLIST loves STORM DAMAGE: A sleeper here, a beautiful spin on hard-boiled fiction…simply asking questions leads (P.I. Cliff St. James) to hints of a sneaky CIA plot and occasions the kind of cleansing bloodbath that has readers feeling like they’ve wandered happily into Hammett’s Red Harvest. The author works hard to make his world a place you can almost reach out and touch.”
A sleeper here, a beautiful spin on hard-boiled fiction that respects the conventions—starting with the knockout female client with an agenda—rather than mocking or aping them. The hero is damaged goods, the politicos are corrupt, other guys you can’t figure out at all, and it’s all done with style and energy.
The setting is New Orleans, just pulverized by a Katrina-like hurricane. The storm also swept away a crime scene, and that’s why the hormonal woman seeks out PI Cliff St. James. Was that really her father’s body on the floor of the Tiki Hut? St. James’ investigation doesn’t end there: simply asking questions leads him to hints of a sneaky CIA plot and occasions the kind of cleansing bloodbath that has readers feeling like they’ve wandered happily into Hammett’s Red Harvest.
For the finale, Kovacs isn’t content to just have the hero explain everything. The revelations come during a freshly imagined, boozily whirling Mardi Gras party. The author works hard to make his world a place you can almost reach out and touch. — Don Crinklaw, BOOKLIST
“Storm Damage: a Crime Novel” (Minotaur), by Ed Kovacs: The bleak and dangerous situation in New Orleans that followed Hurricane Katrina has an element of treachery added to it in Ed Kovacs’ new novel, “Storm Damage.”
As the book opens, it’s five months, 15 days into the “new normal,” as residents called the time just after the storm. Kovacs’ hero, Cliff St. James, was a policeman until the hurricane. He is now teaching martial arts, but he’s broke and going deep into debt.
“Mother Nature and the looters had destroyed my place of business; my students fled to points unknown around the country. I had no job, no income. Me and a couple hundred thousand other people.”
St. James is in his damaged dojo when a woman walks in and startles him so much, he’s decked by a student. Twee Siu is the daughter of the last murder victim before Katrina hit. Her father was a friend of St. James, and she wants to hire the former cop to find out what happened. He is reluctant to take the case until Siu offers him $550 a day plus expenses and a $30,000 bonus if he finds out what happened to her father.
In “Storm Damage,” everyone has an ulterior motive and everyone is dirty, especially the police and Detective Sgt. Dice McCarty, who was St. James’ nemesis when he was on the force. McCarty has since hooked up with St. James’ ex-wife.
As St. James looks for answers, he wanders through a city that is as dark — and the characters as hard to pin down — as the floodwaters still swirling in many of the city’s streets.
Finding out what happened isn’t going to be easy. The body disappeared with the flood, and so did any evidence. That’s not to say St. James won’t find out a lot about his old friend, including a connection with the CIA.
By the time Mardi Gras hits the storm-torn streets, St. James is trying to not only solve a mystery, but also avoid a killer who’s looking for him.
Kovacs has written a fast-paced, gritty novel in which no one is to be trusted and nothing is as it seems. His noir take on the thriller will hook readers and make residents of New Orleans glad that although things were bad in their city, they weren’t as bad as Kovacs paints them. —ASSOCIATED PRESS
For Cliff St. James, the hard-hitting PI (literally: he dabbles in mixed martial arts on the side) in Kovacs’s debut, life has a dividing line. There’s before the Storm and after. Since he lives in New Orleans (“Nu-whohr-lins” for those of us who use books to brush up on our regional accents), it almost seems like an insult call said Storm “Hurricane Katrina.” The “K” word is barely uttered. That’s what outsiders say, people who watched the disaster unfold on TV, not the ones who still live without electricity, some in FEMA trailers, some in patched-together houses that were, only five months before we meet Cliff, submerged in water tainted with sewage and enough bacteria to leave swatches of mold in its wake. But all of this, coupled with the police department’s barely 20% solve rate for homicides, is part of the New Normal. And just as the perpetually damp buildings are prime breeding grounds for mold and decay, the struggling city is ripe for crime.
Like so many of his fictional counterparts, Cliff becomes a PI following a truncated career as a cop. In his case, it’s hard to rise up in the ranks when you maybe-not-so-accidentally hit the Chief of Police in the face with a well-placed handful of Mardi Gras beads during a particularly alcohol-fueled moment of revelry on Fat Tuesday. His last day on the beat coincides with the full wrath of the Storm, as well as the discovery of a fresh corpse, local bar owner and former Chief Building Inspector Sam Siu. I’ve seen enough crime shows to know that dead body plus approaching hurricane do not a good pair make. It’s also just common sense that a cop whose first name is “Dice” is most likely dirty, or at registers somewhere on the sleazebag scale. Turns out Detective Sergeant Dice McCarty is the double whammy of dirty sleazebag, known to take bribes from area drug dealers as well as sleep with Cliff’s ex-wife. Add “possibly erasing pertinent files from a murder victim’s laptop at a crime scene” to his list of less than admirable qualities and Dice is firmly entrenched in my mind as a guy I wouldn’t mind seeing flounder around in a cage fight against Cliff. Fair-schmair.
Cliff’s first PI case brings Sam’s death full circle when his daughter, Twee—who may or may not be on the level herself—hires Cliff to investigate her father’s death. Apparently, in the aftermath of the Storm, NOPD’s to-do list didn’t include tracking down Sam’s killer, particularly since his body had been washed away and the crime scene flooded. Sam’s abandoned bar, the Tiki Hut, is far from the only thing that’s dirty as Cliff starts investigating. Despite his less than exemplary record with the department, Cliff maintains a healthy network of cop contacts, a list of chits he can call in should the need arise.
Easily his most intriguing friend in blue is Sergeant Baybee. Admittedly, I thought she was a prostitute the first time she was introduced. And not the vice-cop-undercover-as-a-working-girl kind. This is because Sergeant Baybee’s first name is Honey. And the character isn’t a man built like a linebacker with a deceptively cute nickname. She’s a kickass woman who gets ornery if she doesn’t get to break up bar fights every so often. The name is still cringe-worthy but the character grew on me almost immediately. Especially because it’s obviously that Honey could take down Dice one-handed anytime.
The case itself is rewardingly twisty, especially given the fact that the majority of the suspects are guilty of something, even if it’s not murder (or not the murder Cliff is investigating). In a sense, Cliff’s journeys through various gang underworlds, as well as the CIA’s possible involvement with local drug trade, also serve as a skewed love letter to his adopted city. Just as so many of the structures need to be demolished and rebuilt from scratch rather than just shoddily patched up in the wake of the Storm, Cliff doesn’t gloss over the city’s still-festering open wounds in need of care. He’s also perfected the art of integrating stories about his own experiences during the Storm’s immediate aftermath—but only to a point—to further his own goals, such as obtaining his PI license in Baton Rouge:
The bag of pastries I brought from the Winn-Dixie didn’t hurt, either. The ladies were hungry for Danish and juicy tidbits of what it had been like during those first days after the Storm in the Big Easy, and I wasn’t above sharing in order to win their confidence and sympathy. I wanted that license today.So I told them true stories of boat rescues, body retrievals, and waxing a few dirtbags in gunfights. They were stories I was comfortable telling to strangers, the ones I had become dispassionate about. The memories that still got to me, the ones that made me wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night, I didn’t share with anyone except my buddies-in-arms who were there and who understood completely.
It’s odd to feel the urge to visit a place as ravaged by nature and humans as Kovacs’s New Orleans but somehow he makes it appealing. Granted, it would be handy to have Cliff as a tour guide (or body guard). I might also want to borrow some of Sgt. Babybee’s body armor but I think she’d fight me for it and I can already predict who’d win. It’s the spirit of the city that Cliff hangs onto and that Kovacs highlights. In the week leading up the first Mardi Gras following the Storm, right after someone has tossed his car, Cliff sees the familiar stirrings of the old “Nu-whohr-lins”:
From a gallery railing of the antique shop across the street, the owner had hung a purple, green, and gold flag. Purple, green, and gold meant as much to the people of NOLA as the fleur-de-lis or an LSU jersey. Purple, green, and gold were the New Orleans colors for Mardi Gras. I smiled as I looked up and down the block, more closely this time. I noticed some Mardi Gras beads hanging from a mailbox, a tattered and faded fleur-de-lis T-shirt draped from a window ledge, a purple, green, and gold pennant dangling from a shop’s doorknob. The hollow shell of a burned-out redbrick building on the corner was now draped with gold lamé bunting like a Vera Wang gown on a toothless meth head.--CRIMINAL ELEMENT
Kovacs’ gritty debut, the first in a series set in post-Katrina New Orleans, introduces PI Cliff St. James. Some six months earlier, on the night the Category Five hurricane hit the city, Cliff, then a cop on his last shift for the NOPD, was at a crime scene—the Tiki Hut bar, where a friend of his, building inspector Sam Siu, lay on the floor, shot in the back of the head. Cliff left before the huge storm swept away the Tiki Hut with the body.
Now Sam’s grown daughter, Twee Siu, wants Cliff to find out why her father was killed. Nearly everybody connected to the murder investigation has something to hide, including Twee, who’s holding back key information; Sam’s druggie girlfriend and bar manager, Kiesha Taylor; corrupt former New Orleans mayor Marlin Duplessis; and Vietnamese gang leader Jimmy Nguyen. Cliff takes plenty of knocks, but proves as resilient as New Orleans in this action-filled crime novel. —PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY
In a city ravaged by corruption and Hurricane Katrina, a murder occurs shortly before the storm hits. Called out to investigate is New Orleans Police Officer Cliff St. James. It’s his last day in the force, but the murder victim is a friend of his, although the police can’t be sure because the face has been blown off the murder victim with a high-powered weapon. Few police are out due to the impending hurricane, and when St. James arrives, another officer is already there, investigating the murder called in by the victim’s daughter.
The storm hits before anything can be done, and when Hurricane Katrina is over, the body is gone, as is all the forensic evidence of the crime scene. Cliff St. James is now off the police force and devastated by the destruction of his mixed martial arts studio. He’s troubled by the unsolved murder, and when the victim’s daughter approaches him to investigate, there are more leads than answers.
This gripping, gritty first novel by Ed Kovacs will draw readers into the world of the “New Normal” post-Katrina as a city and ex-cop come to grips with an unsolved murder. There is corruption at every turn, and more than a few suspects, as the bar owner who was killed (a Vietnamese pilot who worked for the CIA during the Vietnam war) was connected to people at every corner of the Crescent City.
There’s the former mayor of New Orleans, who is being investigated by the FBI on corruption charges; there’s the New Orleans CIA station chief who was a business partner of the dead man; there’s more than one drug lord who has come across his path; and the there’s the bar’s co-owner, a woman who was the dead man’s lover. Even the daughter who’s paying for the investigation is covering up plenty of the past.
In solving the murder mystery, readers are taken on a wild ride through New Orleans as it existed just after the hurricane hit. The novel’s plot has plenty of action, loads of suspects, and undeniable suspense. The main character, Cliff St. James, is a likable leading man, and the villains (of which there are an endless supply) perfectly suit the storyline. This thoroughly enjoyable thriller showcases the author’s talent well, and as a security contractor himself, it’s likely that there are plenty more great stories worth telling in his repertoire. His readers, no doubt, will be awaiting them. REVIEWINGTHEEVIDENCE
Ed Kovacs comes out of the gate with a bang. STORM DAMAGE is ultra fast-paced, moving, and nicely devious. Highly recommended. —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times Bestselling Author
Hard-edge. Frenetic. This tale is fluid, dark, and compelling. Ed Kovacs is a vivid addition to the thriller genre. —Steve Berry, New York Times Bestselling Author
Powerful as a Category Five hurricane, Storm Damage by Ed Kovacs is a riveting journey into murder, politics, and greed. Kovacs writes like a master, bringing to exciting life colorful and cosmopolitan New Orleans. In the aftermath of Katrina, brand-new private investigator Cliff St. James is thrown into a cauldron of lies, felonies, and violence just as Mardi Gras begins. This is a spicy, thrilling story as unforgettable as an excellent gumbo. —Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Spies
With a penchant for descriptive accuracy, Ed Kovacs provides page-turning excitement in this New Orleans centered murder mystery. In fact, if you allow yourself to become immersed, you’ll probably be able to hear the jazz playing in the background—it’s that intense. —John Alexander, author of FUTURE WAR
Praise for Unseen Forces
UNSEEN FORCES is a thrilling novel about independent archaeologist Dr. Sky Wilder, who discovers an Egyptian stone tablet holding key secrets to a formula for physical immortality. A power grab and clandestine war between secret brotherhoods and covert agencies results. Diana Hunt, the U.S. military’s most accurate remote viewer – a psychic spy – devotes her talent to keeping Dr. Wilder alive. Yet the forces behind the lethal multi-tiered battle are far greater than mere mortals could suspect, and will culminate in a devastating conflict to decide the fate of humanity. A taut, suspenseful story that keeps the reader riveted to the pages until the very end.
“Nobody said a treasure hunt was easy.” –-Maverick archaeologist Sky Wilder.
Sky Wilder is an archaeologist walking the edges of academia, mocked by his peers for pursuing the alternative. When he breaks a code that could locate Ancient Egyptian stone tablets holding the key to immortality, more than just his academic reputation is at stake. Secret forces in the world, who have been manipulating global governments and finances for millennia, will stop at nothing to possess the key to eternal life … and Sky Wilder is in their way.
This is the basis for Ed Kovacs’ explosive debut novel Unseen Forces. Conspiracy buffs and alternative armchair archaeologists will rejoice at the sheer number of fringe topics Kovacs has managed to weave into a plot that is as exciting as it is believable. Secret societies, corrupt billionaires, military psychic programs, Ancient Egyptian magick, Burmese refugees, Navajo sarcasm … this book has it all.
Assigned to help Sky Wilder – or so it seems – is Diana Hunt, one of the American military’s best psychic warriors, and a stunningly gorgeous woman as well. She could easily have become the Bond girl of the story, but Kovacs constructs her personal story with depth and feeling, and she quickly becomes a character that is vital to the book.
Perhaps the most important part of the book involves Wilder and Hunt’s foray into the borderlands of Thailand and Burma – the infamous Golden Triangle of military corruption, drug trafficking, and human rights abuses. Kovacs draws on his own personal travel experiences in the Golden Triangle to create a thought-provoking and deeply moving part of the story that can seem a little bit at odds with the novel’s James Bond-like ending. The plight of the Burmese people is a real one, and this is where Sky Wilder draws upon his inner resources – courage, conscience, and sheer guts and determination – to fight the greed and corruption of the Burmese Junta.
Unseen Forces is a terrific debut novel that literally has something for everyone, and it deserves to be on the bestseller lists. It’s unique enough to stand out from the supermarket crowd, but not too out-there that it alienates its readers.