Billy Whistler by Bill Thompson is the 4th book in the Bayou Haunting series. I have read them all with great enjoyment. The author has a particular way of writing that appeals to me with it’s tone and pace, but I imagine it’s not for everyone. I was really happy to see a new title out in the series.
Billy Whistler concentrates on Landry Drake, the investigative reporter, who has featured in previous books. He receives a phone call of a girl in distress asking for help due to dubious goings on in her home town. He soon discovers a mystery to be solved. In 1880, a group of vigilantes burn a cult settlement to the ground on the banks of the river and commit other brutal acts. The repercussions of this act are still playing out to this day, linking in with the murder of teenage girls from the small town. The towns people are reluctant to talk about this part of their history. Landry is met with hostility from the police and the funeral director. There is talk of a rougarou on the shores of the river (which is like a southern american werewolf type creature). Landry is intrigued and puts himself and others in danger as he tries to find the answers.
Honestly, this is my least favourite of the series. It’s not bad but I felt the story was pushing the boundaries of reality even though it deals with less paranormal than the other books. Landry spent a lot of time eating at various restaurants which were tantalizingly described but maybe not relevant to the book. There were aspects that were too convenient that tied up loose ends. (Little spoiler!) Would a cult leader who runs a Amish style cult really have a mobile phone and would one of the girls in the cult, with no technological experience be able to use the phone, find the phone number of a TV station to contact someone and leave a voicemail? I’m thinking unlikely. I felt the most interesting part of the story, the rougarou, was left in mystery and not developed enough for me. I hate it when the best bits are tacked onto the end of a story with convenient plot devices that wrap it too neatly. There is potential for more development in a future book and I will read it to satisfy my curiosity.
So 3/5 for Billy Whistler. The food descriptions definitely make me want to visit this part of the world (even though I’m vegan and they were mostly fish) but this shouldn’t be my main memory about a book concerning supernatural mysteries. I will read further Bill Thompson books but this wasn’t a favourite, sorry! No scares for me.