Winner of the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger for Best Debut Crime Novel of the Year.
Shortlisted for the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year Award.
As recommended on the Radio 2 Arts Show with Claudia Winkleman.
Inspired by a true story, set against the heady backdrop of jazz-filled, mob-ruled New Orleans, The Axeman's Jazz by Ray Celestin is a gripping thriller announcing a major talent in historical crime fiction.
New Orleans, 1919. As a dark serial killer - the Axeman - stalks the city, three individuals set out to unmask him:
Detective Lieutenant Michael Talbot - heading up the official investigation, but struggling to find leads, and harbouring a grave secret of his own.
Former detective Luca d'Andrea - now working for the mafia; his need to solve the mystery of the Axeman is every bit as urgent as that of the authorities.
And Ida - a secretary at the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and dreaming of a better life, she stumbles across a clue which lures her and her musician friend, Louis Armstrong, to the case -and into terrible danger . . .
As Michael, Luca and Ida each draw closer to discovering the killer's identity, the Axeman himself will issue a challenge to the people of New Orleans: play jazz or risk becoming the next victim.
The evocative prose brings the jazz-filled, mob-ruled 'Big Easy' of pre-prohibition America to life in glorious effect with a story full of suspense and intrigue. Stunning * Sunday Express *
A rewarding crime novel, swinging its way to a terrifying denouement with all the panache of a New Orleans marching band . . . An excellent debut * The Times *
Gripping . . . Celestin smartly evokes the atmosphere of 1919 New Orleans, and a city dominated by music and the mob. * Sunday Times *
A fascinating portrait of a vibrant and volatile city and a riveting read * Guardian *
Based on a true story . . . this thriller blends voodoo, gangsters and jazz into an intoxicating mix * Sunday Mirror *
Outstanding * Daily Telegraph *
A clever and utterly believable procedural with a suitably grisly killer, set in a brilliant and vibrant historical background * Crime Review *
The best debut I've read this year * Scotsman, Crime Books of the Year *
Superb. * Guardian Crime Books of the Year *
Celestin has skilfully woven around the facts a clever story of three detectives who, in different ways and for different motives, set out to find the murderer. He brilliantly portrays the mood of a city under a siege of fear. Fictional musicians mix with the real jazz artists of the period, not least Louis Armstrong. * The Times, Crime Books of the Year *
With such unlikely figures as Oscar Wilde being dragooned as sleuths in crime fiction, perhaps jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong is not such a stretch - Ray Celestin's debut novel places him as one of a group on the trail of a serial axe murderer in early 20th-century New Orleans. The Axeman's Jazz
quickly gleaned awards, sporting an acute sense of period shored up by an evocation of the sound of early jazz - no easy thing on the printed page. There's a challenge for this writer: how does he follow this up? * Independent Crime Books of the Year *
An absolute must for true crime fanatics.
* Refinery29 *
Ray Celestin lives in London. He studied Asian art and languages at university and is a script writer for film and TV, as well as publishing several short stories. His first novel The Axeman's Jazz won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed follow-up Dead Man's Blues.