Detective Sergeant Romulus Poe, part Paiute Indian and part Mormon, is the lead character in the first in a new series by Los Angeles author Faye Kellerman, known best for her Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus mysteries. Set in Las Vegas, Moon Music is a tour of the desert city as much more than the grown-up playground of today. Decker is the lead investigator in a series of grisly show girl murders. His primary love interest and investigative partner is Hindu pathologist Dr. Rukmani Kalil who, along with Poe's twin brother Remus, slightly batty Mother, Emma, and high school sweetheart, Alison Jensen, allow Kellerman to introduce themes of mysticism and fantasy along with her respect for religion as a motivating and moderating force in human dynamics.
In an eerie prescience, the plot of Moon Music is entwined with Nevada's infamous Yucca Flat atomic test site. Emma Poe reminisces about her senior class trip to see the mushroom cloud, They took us there very early in the morning . . . before dawn. It was dark and cold and a little spooky. We had to hunker down in these troughs that the soldiers had dug a couple of years before. We were just these kids, giggling and telling scary things because we were nervous. But we were excited too. . . . Ten! Nine! Eight, seven, six . . . even with my eyes closed and covered with my arms, I still saw this . . . this fantastic burst of light shooting through my skin . . . like God was recreating the universe. And then . . . at the same time . . . you felt this big blast of heat . . . sizzling through your clothes. And when they said you could look up, you did. And there it was. Right there in the sky . . . that famous mushroom cloud . . . what a thrill! Indeed. What a thrill. Not every character in the book is enchanted with the nuclear age, We explode something like a thousand bombs into our atmosphere after exploding only two bombs in enemy territory. Now you tell me. Who came out better, huh? Meticulous documentation of the early detonations at the Nevada Proving Ground are a stark reminder of the days of public innocence the days when support for the atomic program was considered a certain patriotic duty, On January 27, 1951 a one-kiloton bomb named Able was dropped above Frenchman Flat . . . More bombs followed, each one christened as if the government were birthing an infant . . . from Able in 1951 to . . . Little Feller I in July of 1962. Faye Kellerman's talent for deeply complex characters, riveting action, and thorough research keeps us sitting on the edge of our seat, wide awake late at night. Moon Music is an energizing, terrifying, thought provoking introduction to the Las Vegas of Romulus Poe and Rukmani Kalil. You'll want to go back often and stay late.
Donna Headrick is a researcher and a columnist for the IntrepidNetReporter.