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The Kindness of Strangers

Kindness of Strangers is the SIXTH book in the Edgar Award-winning Skip Langdon mystery series Julie Smith.

"A breathless thriller … Smith pushes her protagonist to the breaking point and the series to a new high water mark of suspense." -Los Angeles Times

“Skip’s grittiest, most disturbing adventure yet … like a good Grisham: taut, fast, and thrilling. But with a lot more heart and soul.” -The Clarion-Ledger


Politics makes the strangest bedfellows of all and in New Orleans, a psychopath’s running for mayor. Not just the usual harmless megalomaniac—a murderer and a monster. His supporters and a good proportion of would-be voters think he’s just a kindly preacher-man and handily crucify anyone who says otherwise. Enter Detective Skip Langdon, who met the Rev. Errol Jacomine on a case, finds him pretty much the personification of evil, and can point to a pile of corpses to prove it.

But Langdon’s fresh out of street cred. On administrative leave after shooting someone, she’s become the Cassandra of the police department—everything she says gets put down to paranoia. So finding the proof to discredit Jacomine becomes her obsession until he kidnaps a couple of kids she cares about—and then it turns into a mission from hell.

Langdon has to bull her way through a hurricane to find the small army of Jacomine’s thugs who’ve got 15-year-old Sheila, the closest thing she has to a niece, and Sheila’s friend, who’s having the mother of inappropriate love affairs—with someone dangerously close to Jacomine.

“As usual, smith serves up a gritty, gripping story along with a big helping of action and a pinch of humor, all appropriately seasoned by the wonderfully steamy steaminess of New Orleans.” -Booklist

Skip tried to keep it light, obediently telling war stories until her mother called them to dinner.

Ted Gilkerson, who’d now had a couple of martinis in addition to whatever he’d swizzled earlier, wouldn’t leave her alone. “It’s the mayor who appoints the superintendent, right? If we had a decent mayor, we might get a decent chief.”

“I like the mayor,” said Camille, but he bulled on ahead.

“Only reason we got the kind of police we do is, the powers that be want it that way. Right, Skip?”

“I don’t know, Ted. I think the problems are ingrained over generations.”

“Good mayor could stop ‘em. We gotta get that asshole outta there.”

“Well, since he’s not running for reelection, I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”

“There’s always a machine guy. Jackson’s it this time.” Jackson had been accused of taking kickbacks when he served on the city council. In fact, he’d resigned over it.

“Know who I like?” said Camille. “I just love Errol Jacomine. Now he talks sense.”

Skip felt her stomach turn over.

Her mother said, “At least he’s not a racist. Perretti might be.”

“My man!” said Conrad, raising a clenched fist. Skip couldn’t conceive how the two of them could be made of the same genetic material.

“I agree with you, honey.” Their father addressed himself to Camille. “I really think he’s got something to offer.”

Skip said, “I know him. There’s something wrong with him. He’s a very, very bad man. And I don’t think Perretti’s really a racist.” She shrugged. “Just another Louisiana opportunist.”

“I think he believes what he says, and I think he’s going to kick ass,” said Conrad. “I’m voting for him.”

“Sweetheart, you can be so heartless sometimes,” said Camille. “Jacomine’s done stuff the others only talk about. He’s gotten people off drugs, he’s cleaned up neighborhoods, he’s worked for good candidates …”

Skip noticed everyone was nodding except Conrad. “I’m voting for him,” said her father.

She was losing her appetite fast.

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United States (64,950)

Other geographical areas

Gulf Coast (USA) (2,573)
Deep South (4,776)