|Cole Dempsey left the small Louisiana town of Azalea Bend some fifteen
years ago, shortly after the death of his father. His father had been
killed at the scene of a crime and his killer was freed because the jury was convinced that Cole’s father was a murderer. He is back to clear his father’s name, now working from the more powerful position as a new partner in a powerful Baton Rouge law firm.
Bellefleur Plantation was the focal point then and is now but it has been converted to a bed and breakfast. Cole checks in for a two-week stay. Earlier it had been the home of the Louvels and Cole had been involved with Bryn Louvel.
Cole’s father Wade had been a gardener for the Louvels was suddenly fired because he was suspected of having an affair with Patsy Louvel, the very grand lady of the house. Bryn was dating Cole and they had not been present when her twin sister Aimee was murdered. Wade apparently had found Amy and was holding her when her father Maurice Louvel killed Wade. His defense was that he believed Wade had killed Aimee. The jury believed him and returned a verdict of not guilty.
Cole is haunted by this and now, years later, he has found the coroner,
talked with him and discovered that there was forensic evidence that had been suppressed that would have exonerated his father in the death of Aimee, which leaves her killer still free. He is back to try and force the reopening of the case.
Years have not treated Bryn kindly; she barely has the finances to keep Bellefleur going and her mother is ensconced in a cottage on the estate a victim of dementia. Bryn has opened Bellefleur to the public as a bed and breakfast, hosting tours and meetings hoping to stay solvent.
Cole’s reappearance brings the past back to Bryn and the small town rallies around the prestigious Louvel name making Cole very aware he is not wanted. Threats and small time acts of violence begin to escalate.
The investigation by Cole starts at a lackluster pace and continues in the lazy fashion of a sluggish southern day. Methodically he traces Aimee’s friends and recreates the actions of that day, with the inevitable result of scaring the guilty to reacting.
As the story plods along so does the burgeoning love affair between Cole and Bryn. Perhaps the strongest part of the book is the realistic sense of setting. The characters are sufficiently fleshed out to carry the story but their reactions are often unsurprising.
Cole Dempsey’s Back in Town is chronicled by a good writer utilizing a tried and true formula featuring conventional characters doing predictable things.