New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith depends on the setting of New Orleans during Mardi Gras for its mystery as well as its unique characters who fit the time and place perfectly. The protagonist, is a reluctant debutant now finding her way in the New Orleans Police Department. With parents who are stereotypical social climbers, she is seen by the other officers as entitled and relatively useless.
But when one of the scions of New Orleans Society is murdered while riding on a float as King of Carnival, she is recruited to help solve the case. The murder of Chauncay St. Amant brings suspicion on all of this family and one family friend. His wife is a drunk, his son is an actor and gay, not a banker, this daughter aimless. The closest family friend has loved Mrs. St. Amant forever although unsuccessfully. The number of intriguing red herrings never seems to stop. I did not figure out the villain until the end. I listened to the book on audio and on more than one occasion took the long way home in order to keep listening.
This is the first in a series about Skip Langdon and her struggle to "find herself" in a city that defines her quite differently. I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series as the characters are quite interesting Julie Smith has won and Edgar Award for this mystery which along with her other mysteries are available through libraries and online.