Book Review ‘The Axeman’s Jazz’, Ray Celestin

Why and how:
I was already on the way from the store when the expeditor said: “Maybe you’d like to buy Axeman? It is really cool book.” 
I picked it, read ‘New Orleans 1919…’ Hmmmm, not my favourite subject for the crime books. But ah, serial killers, lurking in the darkness, feels like an interesting catch. 

I bought it. I do not regret it. 

Attention: The book is translated (swedish) by Hanna Williamsson.
Plus: I couldn’t leave one more ‘Ray’ in the bookstore-prison without zero of NotBradbury-attention. 

Ray’s review (mixed with the wisdoms)

Quote to reflect:
“Some of you young folks been saying to me: ‘Hey Pops, what you mean what a wonderful world? How about all them wars all over the place? You call them wonderful? And how about hunger and pollution? They ain’t so wonderful either.’ But how about listening to old Pops for a minute. It seems to me it ain’t the world that’s so bad, but what we’re doing to it, and all I’m saying is see what a wonderful world it would be if only we’d give it a chance. Love, baby, love. That’s the secret. Yeah. If lots more of us loved each other, we’d solve lots more problems. And man, this world would be a gasser.” Louis Armstrong 

x x x 

The Axeman’s Jazz is a fictional story of an actual serial murder in New Orleans (1919), for which nobody has ever been prosecuted. Until now. Some way or another the truth will always pop up. Because the truth is a shitty/hurtful/ business everybody wanna hide or push deeeeep into the hole. And when the hole is full…- right, “Axeman” happens! 

The place:
New Orleans with the awful rainy weather through all the book. The heart of the child prostitution, voodoo, mafia, drugs and great jazz music. 

The plot:
Twisty and messy. In a good way. 

First of all, understand that New Orleans back in 1919 has been ruled by 3 main blocks:

Sicilian Maffia
Irish Maffia
Black Maffia

Nope, Louis Armstrong did not belong to any of them. And nope, he was not our Axeman. I feel you want it lol But he was too nice fella, in love with the world, music, people and Jazz. 

Heroes to stop by:
Luca D’ Andrea  – a corrupt ex-policeman with ties to organised crime (Sicilian mafia), released from prison. ‘Hot boy’ in the past.

When people say ‘let’s do something about it’, they mean ‘let’s try to control it, so that we can do something to somebody else.’ And that somebody else is often you. I don’t know who said those wise words, but if I’d met Luca right after he left the prison, I’d handle it to him in a nice black envelope. Because dude…seems you never learn. Or maybe he knew – the end is fuckin’ near and it isn’t beautiful. 

Advice from Ray: When you skate on thin ice, skate fast, Luca!’ 

Ida ‘Sherlock’-Davis (19yo) – too curious, too beautiful, too young, too smart. Working in the famous detective agency, friend with Louis Armstrong. 

How does it feels: to become Sherlock at 19, being (almost) rapped by Irish boys on the muddy street because you are ‘coloured’ and a girl? I don’t know. But if you’d give me a gun, I’d probably shot those boys without any hesitation…and I loooove Irish boys. Shit!

Advice from Ray: ‘After a victory – sharpen your knife! After a failure – sharpen your knife!’

Kerry – young, innocent, smart…BUT clumsy and with a damn kind heart. Dead. Irish. The best touch of Irish in this book. Sigh.

Mmmm, Kerry…Kerry!
NotBradbury would definitely fall in love with you. 

Advice from Ray: ‘A harmless enemy is the worst kind of enemy!’

Lil Louie aka Louis Armstrong – (before he became famous) too sweet, too weird, too hopeful, too much ‘believer’ in people and that music can save the world. 

He plays life, but still don’t know much about it. People are feeling his amazing talent and trying to push him towards success. Making money is not exciting to him. To help others – is.
 is assisting Ida when she’s visiting Irish or Italian neighbourhoods. He got kicked out by Irish guys, beaten by his own gf…but STILL believes in ‘ what a wonderful world…’ 

The best you can do in any situation is to stay happy!

Papa Carlo aka The BOSS – old, lost the grip, but still the head of the Sicilian Family.  

Advice from Ray: ‘The business of the mafia is business. Always seek your enemies there!’

Mike Talbot – white, main investigator, married to a black woman, 2 kids. Too slow, too nice, thinking too much, caring. 

I’m not a big fan of ‘worrying about each step I make’ investigators. 

Advice from Ray: ‘Be the Hammer ffs! Strike!!!’

Axeman   sick psycho, used by mafia. Which block? I won’t tell you. Go ahead, guess…

“When you must cut, persuade the victim you are a surgeon.” That’s how Axeman works. And to tell you honestly, he is one mad “surgeon” -> smashing heads into a nice red smoothies.

Advice from Ray: ‘Never kill anyone the same way twice!’

John Riley – paparazzi, drug addict, blabbing a lot, knows shit, but can’t keep his mouth shut. 

Advice from Ray: ‘If the head is boiling over – stick to your passion! Do not hunt flies!’ 

The language:
Excellent writing skills. Can’t say more – I read it in Swedish. 

The structure:
‘Jumping’. I have found it difficult to follow (sometimes), but I see some ‘charm’ in it. 

I liked:

  • Davide Baudet story
  • Connections between the governor, mafia and police
  • The idea is intriguing, mostly – mystery, not so much action
  • Jazz 
  • Good research: historical elements 

I didn’t like:

  • Not scary as you expect (or creepy), but poetical
  • I got lost between Carolla and Morval…I still can’t get who is who.
  • Why Luca has to die? Simone’s gonna be soooo sad. 
  • Mike is fkn soft potato. Why the main investigator is ‘neither fish – nor flesh’ and why the girls should do all the job? 
  • Slow-paced action story

The hidden idea of the book:
Revenge and forgiveness.

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”
Anne Lamott

Rate: 3,5

Next post – There’s only ONE genre in fiction… 


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16 Responses

  1. librepaley8 says:

    Messy, twisty, and a bit grubby – sounds good until we get to the plodding pace. I am finding a lot of thrillers recently that could be cut by a third and benefit from being tauter. It’s as if there’s some demand for a certain length, quite needlessly.
    I like your original reviewing style.

  2. Twisty and messy in a good way!
    Love that description. 😊

  3. Nice review, Ray

  4. Cat says:

    I really like your style of review. Think I might add this one to my reading list just because it sounds so weird

    • Haha thx. Im reviewing for fun only 🙂 I wanted to drop it after 30 pages or so, but I was interested in the “axeman” interpretation & Armstrong’s role in it 🙂

  5. says:

    What a wonderful world!

  6. Kitty Jade says:

    I was reading a lot in the beginning of this month and this post has given me a reminder to break from the screen and pick up my book!

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