Book Review: Under the Cajun Moon

Mindy Starns Clark
Harvest House, 2009
332 pages
trade paperback


I'm not Cajun. Not technically, anyway, because my family didn't come through Nova Scotia. Instead, in the mid-1700's our ancestors sailed directly from France. Which makes us French Creole, although nowadays people usually think more "mixed blood" when they hear "Creole." We're probably that, too, by now.

At any rate, I know from South Louisiana because I come from that particular pot of genetic gumbo. Which ingredient my family is or was doesn't much matter now, since it's the flavor that counts.

Clark's Under the Cajun Moon tries very hard--almost too hard--to give readers a taste of South Louisiana. It's liberally sprinkled with Cajun French (stuff I recognized from my own childhood) and vivid descriptions of the bayous and of New Orleans. In fact, the title and cover art are the reasons I picked this one from the library shelf, even without reading the description.

Well! That's the other thing. If I'd looked at the publisher, I'd have known, but this is one of those Christian books disguised as a mystery. Somehow I've yet to read one that, no matter how hard the author tries, doesn't make the reader feel like he or she is being beaten over the head with a sermon. (And if Christians are reading these things, aren't the authors and publishers just preaching to the choir?)

The publisher was, in fact, a big factor in my problems with this book, though not because of the religious angle. That doesn't actually bother me, except when the storytelling grinds to a halt so someone can whip out a Bible and pray. The book was simply badly edited and contained many typos. Also, the use of "Prytaria" instead of "Prytania"? Seriously? Someone couldn't look that up and make sure it was correct?

As for the story itself, for a mystery it wasn't much of one. Clark telegraphs her punches, and I--as an avid mystery reader--had the bad guy fingered almost as soon as he appeared on the scene.

I'm underwhelmed as a whole, but here's the thing: I wouldn't say no to trying one of Clark's other books.

And I'm wondering if I insert some sermonizing into one of my manuscripts, will Harvest House publish it?

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