New York Times bestselling author Robert Asprin, writing with Eric Del Carlo and Teresa Patterson, delves into the dark secrets of the New Orleans French Quarter in this suspenseful tale of ghosts and haunted dreams, murder and revenge, justice and unexpected courage.
Once upon a time, before Katrina…
After you’ve lived in the French Quarter for a while, you develop the cynical belief that you’ve seen it all … that nothing can get to you anymore. You and your bar acquaintances tell yourselves and each other that you’ve gotten so used to the drunken tourist idiocy and random acts of violence … that it doesn’t bother you.
Sunshine came to New Orleans to escape her past and to catch up with her elusive dreams, but she got lost in the old city’s seductive Southern nights. The tempting dark side of the French Quarter catered to her weaknesses, offering her just exactly what she desired-cheap drugs, the wrong kind of men, and the thrill of living on the edge. Alienated from her friends and in need of help, she called out to one of them … but her message didn’t get through in time.
When she tries to go it alone, she walks down the wrong street into the wrong patch of darkness and meets the brutal, bloody end to her dreams at the point of a knife.
In another city, her death might be written off as a mugging, just another statistic on the police blotter. Not so for the NOPD, to whom the safe reputation of the French Quarter is a priority, even if the victim is a waitress and not a treasured, pampered tourist. Not so for the French Quarter locals, because no matter how far she’d fallen, Sunshine was one of their own. And no mere mugger in New Orleans or any other city would have left a victim’s body framed by the crude remnants of a botched Voodoo ritual, a display designed to insult the true practitioners of that religion.
To Maestro, Sunshine’s death represents not only a tragedy but an obligation, because he’s the one who missed responding to her call for help. A master of both the pool cue and the rapier, a man of regular habits and close secrets, he prefers keeping to the shadows-but to avenge Sunshine and to satisfy his tarnished honor, he’ll risk opening his own less-than-savory past to question.
To Bone, a waiter, and his girlfriend Alex, Sunshine was family, and the pain of her savage murder is made even more crushing by their recent estrangement from her. Because of his past connection to Sunshine, and because of a bitter, public argument with her, Bone becomes a suspect in her murder. When Sunshine’s ghost begins to haunt his dreams, he comes to the realization that just clearing his name won’t be enough for him. Even justice won’t be enough. His heart cries out for vengeance, and Alex refuses to be left out of his quest.
But what can three ordinary people do that the police can’t? As fate draws Maestro, Bone, and Alex together in the hunt for the murderer, they find unlikely allies among the street people, bartenders, performers, and other denizens of the French Quarter. Their hunt leads them through the darkest corners of the Quarter, into the dangerous depths that lie beneath the benign “party-town” surface of the old city-and into shattering revelations about themselves.
Death and destruction lie in the turning of the Tarot cards, and blood will lead to blood before honor and desire are satisfied.
“A hard-boiled mystery, over Easy” — William R. Page
A note from Tom Knowles, publisher of DarkStar Books, to the fans of Robert Asprin
NO Quarter isn’t exactly Bob Asprin’s last book—there are others forthcoming from outlines and partials—but it is the last book he completed, wrote through from beginning to end. It’s also unique, for two reasons:
First, Bob’s friends and those fans who got to meet him at conventions and filks will easily recognize his somewhat fictionalized self portrait in the character of the mysterious, pool-playing fencing master and wise man/wise guy known as Maestro. Bob often put his personal philosophy into the mouths of his lead character, but to create NO Quarter and Maestro, he anted up a bit his soul.
Second, NO Quarter is a suspense/dark fantasy novel that is a crossover/spin-off from a fantasy series—something that has not, to my knowledge, ever been accomplished before by any author. Although the fantasy and horror elements (voodoo, tarot readings and precognition, ghosts) in NO Quarter are less in evidence, it is set in the same milieu as Bob’s Dragons Luck and Dragons Wild novels. Fans of that series will already be familiar with NO Quarter’s two protagonists, Maestro and Bone, as well as other denizens of NO Quarter’s dangerous, haunted, and clannish French Quarter, from their minor roles in the strange life of Griffen McCandles, the Dragon gambler.
NO Quarter is remarkable in other ways as well.
Bob planned this novel with Eric Del Carlo after they met and became friends in the French Quarter. They alternated chapters, Bob writing Maestro’s viewpoint, Eric writing Bone’s. What shines through both writers’ prose is a love for the old French Quarter that existed before Katrina smashed in to alter it forever—a love that neither excuses nor attempts to conceal that city-within-a-city’s dangers and disappointments.
Maestro’s chapters are classic Asprin, this because Maestro is the classic Asprin hero … just written a bit darker, more reminiscent of his Thieves World than his Myth Adventures. The inimitable Asprin humor is there throughout, along with the tension between student and mentor, and the journey of self-discovery that both of them take during the course of a friendship. Bone’s chapters, written in Eric’s distinctive voice, offer an acerbic contrast that complements and highlights Asprin’s characterization of Maestro. The two characters, as did the two writers, work well together and push each other in new directions.
When Bill Fawcett offered the book to DarkStar, Bob and Eric had brought it to a third-draft level. Because both authors had other commitments, Bob suggested that long-time friend and author Teresa Patterson, who was familiar with the French Quarter and its culture, give the book its final polish to smooth out its rough spots. We signed the contract … and then, not long after, Robert Asprin—my friend and a friend to just about everyone who met him—closed his eyes for the last time.
Despite that sad occurrence, we pushed the project on to completion. Eric and Teresa’s edits and refinements resulted in a novel that I believe is a fitting tribute to our friend, Bob Asprin. DarkStar published it in a quality trade paperback edition in November 2009.
Because the major chain stores are deadly serious about categories, you’ll likely find NO Quarter in the mystery section instead of the SF/F section beside Bob’s other books—but make no mistake, it’s an Asprin book, and in my opinion, one of his finest works.
Check out NO Quarter at DarkStar Books.