REVIEWS EXCERPT
 

FQD-HalfCover.jpgAt age nine, Danny Toussaint is abandoned by his mother, and he’s taken in by a Cajun madam, who owns and operates the Rampart Club in the New Orleans French Quarter.  An alcoholic cop who hangs out at the club grudgingly assumes the role of surrogate father.

In the Vieux Carré, a boy grows up quickly.  By the time Danny reaches his teens, he’s learned to please the local women and to hustle pool.  He’s also indebted to the neighborhood mob boss.

Danny’s street smarts carry him into his late twenties, but then an ambitious, self-reliant artist named Chenoa Courteau enters his life.  Danny feels unworthy of her, but with no profession to fall back on, he goes on the road, hoping to make a living as a pool player.  He’s in Texas when he learns that a storm is raging in the Gulf of Mexico and is threatening New Orleans.  Forecasters are calling it Hurricane Katrina.

Populated by authentic characters and told from an insider’s view of the Gulf Coast, the French Quarter, and the world of pool, French Quarter Danny is the story of a young man in search of his true identity.

 
PURCHASE:  $19.95

www.bebobpublishing.com

Click on:

  1. Enter here, then
  2. Books & Videos, then
  3. Movies & Stories

www.amazon.com
Paperback
320 Pages
ISBN-10: 9781887956079


 

REVIEWS:

French Quarter Danny is Carlos Ledson Miller’s fourth novel, and he keeps getting better and better.  New Orleans’ French Quarter is as much a character in the book as are the main players, and since Danny plays pool at top speed, the vagaries of the sport are driving forces in the story as well.  At the bottom though, French Quarter Danny, like The Hustler and The Color of Money, is a story of character.

  • Pool & Billiards Magazine

Your heart will skip a beat in French Quarter Danny.  Danny had everything, until his wife found someone else.  Divorced, he fell back on the only thing he knew he could do well — pool.  By the time Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf Coast, the pace has picked up so much it’s as if you, the reader, are caught up in the storm, letting the wind and story take you where it will.

  • The Galveston Daily News

French Quarter Danny was named one of New Orleans’ “5 Hot Reads — books of local interest” during 2010.

  • The New Orleans Times Picayune

I have all of this author's books and enjoyed them all. But French Quarter Danny is really outstanding. I started reading it at about 10:30 pm and finished it at about 3:00 am, couldn't put it down. I can't remember the last time I read a book cover to cover in one read. Carlos Ledson Miller gets better with each book he writes. I am looking forward to his next effort.

  • Amazon book buyer

The author writes a fast moving novel juxtaposing a sport he knows well (pool) with the traditions of places he loves - the Louisiana Cajun country & the New Orleans French Quarter. He does an excellent job of building to an exciting finish.

  • Amazon book buyer

Carlos Miller's new book, French Quarter Danny, is a fast paced page turner that I devoured in 2 days. I've heard many things, good and bad, about New Orleans, and this was a new view for me. I highly recommend it.

  • Amazon book buyer

 

 

EXCERPT:

FRENCH QUARTER DANNY

PROLOGUE:  THE LANDLADY

She moved as sinuously as the bayou itself, and in her face was reflected the dusky mystery of all Louisiana.
                   - Julie Smith: “House of Mischief”

Danny heard the tread of someone coming up the rear stairwell that led to the third floor.  The nine-year-old scrambled off the torn sofa and scurried through the maze of broken furniture and cardboard boxes.  At the door, he flipped down the light switch, plunging the small makeshift storeroom into darkness.  The footsteps grew near.  For an instant, shadows interrupted the sliver of light beneath the door.  Then the footsteps passed, and the door to the next room opened and closed.

Danny turned, and felt his way back toward the sofa.  His forearm bumped against a discarded lamp, sending it crashing to the floor.  He froze, holding his breath, aware of the thumping of his heart.

After a long moment of silence, he heard a woman’s muffled voice — possibly the one named Crystal — demanding payment in advance.  The guttural male response was unintelligible, but a few moments later Danny heard the familiar, rhythmic complaint of cheap bed springs.

The immediate threat had passed.  Danny’s stomach growled.  He hadn’t eaten since yesterday.  If his mother wasn’t back by morning, he’d have to come out of hiding.  But where would he go?

 “You’re hurting me!” Danny cried, but Crystal kept her pincer-like grip on his ear as she pulled him down the stairs.  At the second-floor landing, they turned down a hallway and arrived at a lacquered door.

Crystal knocked and a woman’s voice called out, “Come in!”

Crystal opened the door and pushed Danny across the threshold and into Miss Celeste’s private quarters.

Danny pulled up and gave the surroundings a furtive glance.  Three shaded lamps bathed the room in a soft beige hue.  The wood-shuttered doors that led to the veranda were closed, and the lace curtains that covered the four floor-to-ceiling windows were drawn.  The room smelled of women’s bath powder.

Miss Celeste had been reclining against the arm of a cushioned settee.  Now she sat up, her pink negligee parting at mid thigh.

“He was hiding in the storeroom,” Crystal said.

“The storeroom?” the older woman said, disbelief in her tone.

“I was upstairs with a customer, and I heard him knock something over.”

“Get over here, boy!” Miss Celeste ordered.

Danny’s legs felt weak as he crossed the dark wood floor.  When he and his mother had arrived in New Orleans, two months earlier, she’d cautioned him not to anger this woman who’d taken them in.  “If possible,” his mother had told him, “stay away from Miss Celeste altogether.”  Now, he was in the woman’s private sanctuary, within arms’ reach, and her dark eyes were fixed upon him.

Miss Celeste sniffed.  “You need a bath.”

Embarrassment overrode his fear.  “I . . . couldn’t help it,” he said, dropping his eyes.  “There wasn’t . . . a bathroom.”

“Look at me,” Miss Celeste said.  “Why were you hiding up there?”

“My mom left . . .” Danny began, then looked down at the floor again.  “I thought she’d want me to wait for her.”  Tears threatened to escape, but he blinked them back.

“His mom’s a piece of shit,” he heard Crystal say.

“Shut up!” Miss Celeste spat.

The slight young woman took a step back, and she too lowered her head.

Miss Celeste returned her attention to Danny.  “Cher, we knew your mom had left with that pool player, and we knew she hadn’t taken you with her.  Then when Eddie and I couldn’t find you, we were afraid you’d run away.”

Danny took a deep breath.  Miss Celeste sounded concerned about him.  And she’d mentioned Eddie, the policeman who hung out on the first floor.  His mother didn’t trust policemen, but yesterday this one had saved him, when Rowdy had tried to hurt him.  Maybe things would be okay, after all. 

Danny looked up.  “Can I stay here ‘til Mom comes back?”

Miss Celeste gave Danny a resigned nod of assent, then flashed a warning glance at Crystal.

The women’s silent exchange confirmed what Danny already suspected.  His mother wouldn’t be coming back.

 

PART I:  THE RAMPART CLUB

I was in lust with sweet decay, the decadent nectar of Louisiana, corruption, backwardness, and bacchanalia.  I reveled and guilted in the mess.  I had that stripe of Louisiana in me.
                            
— Tim Parrish: “Summerteeth”

CHAPTER 1

Danny closed the door to his room at the rear of the second floor.  He walked down the hallway, and then descended the stairway that led to the street.  He was supposed to start his senior year at a different high school this morning.  While getting dressed, though, he’d decided he wasn’t going.  Celeste would raise hell, but he’d worry about that later.  She wouldn’t be up and around until sometime after noon. 

He arrived at the first floor, crossed the small foyer, and opened the front door.  Noisy traffic flowed up and down North Rampart Street, a busy thoroughfare that formed one boundary of the New Orleans French Quarter.  Up the street, a bus was parked in front of the archway that led into Louis Armstrong Park.  Tourists already would be posing for pictures in front of the life-size statue of the legendary jazz musician. 

Danny locked the door behind him, then strolled a few feet down the sidewalk and entered the open door of the Rampart Club.

Eddie, in his NOPD uniform, slouched at the otherwise unoccupied bar, nursing a cup of coffee.  The overweight cop started most mornings this way.  The only other person in the room was Ransom, the elderly black porter, who was mopping the stage where the girls danced.  Ransom always left the front door open to let in fresh air.

“Where y’at?” Danny greeted Eddie.

Eddie acknowledged him with a nod and a grunt.

Danny went behind the bar and drew a cup of coffee from a large ornate pot.  The black brew looked thicker than usual.  He gave Eddie an inquiring glance.

“Left over from last night,” Eddie said.  “Ransom just warmed it up.”

Danny took a sip, made a face, and rummaged around in a cooler until he found an unopened carton of cream.  He mixed the coffee and cream, half and half, then joined Eddie at the bar.

Eddie pushed over a Styrofoam takeout box that contained a pile of beignets.  “Fresh from the French Market.”

Ransom put down his mop, and came over and joined them.  The three ate at the bar in comfortable silence until the two dozen hollow confectioneries had been reduced to a residue of powdered white sugar.

Ransom went back to work, and Eddie said, “You’re running late.”

“I ain’t going,” Danny said.

“Yeah, you are.  This is your last year.  You ain’t dropping out now.”

Danny shook his head.  “I’m seventeen, and I don’t need —”

“I ain’t asking you,” Eddie interrupted.  “I’m telling you.”  His eyes narrowed and an angry flush rose beneath his usual pallor.

Danny sat in stony silence for a moment, then said, “Judah P. Benjamin is a magnet school, Eddie.  That means —”

“I know what that means.  It means you might have to study for a change.”

Danny realized he had no chance of winning this argument, not with both Celeste and Eddie against him.  “Shit,” he muttered as he reluctantly got to his feet.  “A ‘landlady’ for a mother and a cop for a father.”

Eddie chuckled.  “Shut up, and get your ass over to that school.”