New York Times bestselling author Robert Asprin, writing with Eric Del Carlo and Teresa Patterson, delves into the dark secrets of the New Orleans French Quarter in this suspenseful tale of ghosts and haunted dreams, voodoo and mysticism, murder and revenge, justice and unexpected courage.
Fans of Robert Asprin’s Dragons Luck and Dragons Wild, the adventures of gambler/dragon Griffen McCandles, will recognize Bone, Maestro, and other denizens of NO Quarter’s haunted French Quarter from their minor roles in that series of novels. Those fans who knew Bob well will recognize his fictionalized self portrait in the character of the mysterious, pool-playing swordsmaster, Maestro.
List Price: $15.95
Direct to Reader Discount: $14.95
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9819866-0-9
DarkStar Books-Fall 2009
–Click to Order Direct from DarkStar–
– cover painting and interior illustrations by Nathan Smith –
– cover design by Jason Carranza –
Once upon a time, before Katrina …
After you’ve lived in the French Quarter for a while, you develop the cynical belief that you’ve seen it all … that nothing can get to you anymore. You and your bar acquaintances tell yourselves and each other that you’ve gotten so used to the drunken tourist idiocy and random acts of violence … that it doesn’t bother you.
Sunshine came to New Orleans to escape her past and to catch up with her elusive dreams, but she got lost in the old city’s seductive Southern nights. The tempting dark side of the French Quarter catered to her weaknesses, offering her just exactly what she desired-cheap drugs, the wrong kind of men, and the thrill of living on the edge. Alienated from her friends and in need of help, she called out to one of them … but her message didn’t get through in time.
When she tries to go it alone, she walks down the wrong street into the wrong patch of darkness and meets the brutal, bloody end to her dreams at the point of a knife.
In another city, her death might be written off as a mugging, just another statistic on the police blotter. Not so for the NOPD, to whom the safe reputation of the French Quarter is a priority, even if the victim is a waitress and not a treasured, pampered tourist. Not so for the French Quarter locals, because no matter how far she’d fallen, Sunshine was one of their own. And no mere mugger in New Orleans or any other city would have left a victim’s body framed by the crude remnants of a botched Voodoo ritual, a display designed to insult the true practitioners of that religion.
To Maestro, Sunshine’s death represents not only a tragedy but an obligation, because he’s the one who missed responding to her call for help. A master of both the pool cue and the rapier, a man of regular habits and close secrets, he prefers keeping to the shadows-but to avenge Sunshine and to satisfy his tarnished honor, he’ll risk opening his own less-than-savory past to question.
To Bone, a waiter, and his girlfriend Alex, Sunshine was family, and the pain of her savage murder is made even more crushing by their recent estrangement from her. Because of his past connection to Sunshine, and because of a bitter, public argument with her, Bone becomes a suspect in her murder. When Sunshine’s ghost begins to haunt his dreams, he comes to the realization that just clearing his name won’t be enough for him. Even justice won’t be enough. His heart cries out for vengeance, and Alex refuses to be left out of his quest.
But what can three ordinary people do that the police can’t? As fate draws Maestro, Bone, and Alex together in the hunt for the murderer, they find unlikely allies among the street people, bartenders, performers, and other denizens of the French Quarter. Their hunt leads them through the darkest corners of the Quarter, into the dangerous depths that lie beneath the benign “party-town” surface of the old city-and into shattering revelations about themselves.
Death and destruction lie in the turning of the Tarot cards, and blood will lead to blood before honor and desire are satisfied.
Click to read an excerpt from NO Quarter
Click to listen to an audio excerpt from NO Quarter
read by Teresa Patterson and Kevin Dockery
Click to watch an interview with Teresa Patterson:
“Writing NO Quarter with Robert Asprin and Eric Del Carlo”
Click to watch a video of Robert Asprin talking about writing NO Quarter and the Dragons series during a panel with Phil Foglio and Jody Lynn Nye at DragonCon 2006
Click to read a Crescent Blues Interview with
Robert Asprin and Eric Del Carlo about their collaboration on NO Quarter.
Reviews and Links:
“A hard-boiled mystery, over Easy” — William R. Page
Betty Webb, Mystery Scene Magazine, 2010 Summer issue, #115
“Summer seems an unlikely season for an elegy, but NO Quarter, by Robert Asprin (Dark Star, $15.95), serves as a final tribute to the sci-fi/fantasy/mystery novelist who passed away May 22, 2008, leaving his book in the expert hands of co-writers Eric Del Carlo and Teresa Patterson. And what a bang-up farewell he’s given us! Set in the French Quarter of pre-Katrina New Orleans, this memory-haunted mystery follows the troubled life of Sunshine, a murdered waitress, and the friends devastated by her death. Bone, Sunshine’s ex-husband, is so grieved that he bails from his table-waiting job to find her killer. Set almost entirely in French Quarter barrooms‹except for the occasional brawl on Bourbon Street‹the book introduces us to a splendid panoply of characters known only by their nicknames. Besides the pool-playing, movie- obsessed Bone, we meet Maestro, a fencing expert with a dangerous past (rumored to be based on Asprin himself); Rose, a tarot reader and voodoo practitioner; Jugger, a dim but huge ex-con; as well as Dunk, Bear, Werewolf, Firecracker, and Boogie Joe. Such is the strength of Asprin’s writing that he makes us care about every single one of these troubled souls, right down to the feral street kids who would knife anyone just to break up the boredom of their day. Fascinating though these folks are, the true star of the novel is the French Quarter itself: historical, romantic, and dangerous. Asprin’s sensuous descriptions bring the neighborhood alive with scents of hot asphalt, stale beer, sugared beignets, and bloated corpses. Temperance types might want to forgo its booze-soaked pages, but the only shortcoming in this love song to a cursed and blessed city is that‹unlike New Orleans itself‹it finally ends.”
Diana Pinckley, New Orleans Times-Pickayune, Sunday, April 11, 2010
“… Del Carlo and Asprin clearly understand the bar scene. And they definitely get the neighborhood. Theirs is not a vision of wrought-iron balconies scented with jasmine. This late-night Quarter has its stomping boots on.”
Book News and Reviews
“Okay, so when I received this book from the friendly folks at Dark Star Books, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t think it was going to be a crazy whirl-wind tale of murder and intrigue in New Orleans.
… when Sunshine is knifed with an ice pick in a dark alley, Maestro and Bone set out to find the killer. This leads them on a wild adventure in which they discover a lot about themselves, about each other and they find just how low the underside of the French Quarter really hangs …
So, I say, go ahead and check out NO Quarter. I think you’ll enjoy it.”
” … The mystery itself a young, blonde ‘Quarterite’ (Sunshine) who has no enemies is brutally murdered. Her best friend/ex-husband, Bone, wants justice. The only way to find the killer is with the specialized skill set of a older fencing instructor/pool shark, known only as ‘Maestro’. But that’s the PRIMARY mystery, there’s a secondary mystery–just WHO is Maestro? The mystery is a satisfying romp through New Orleans’ French Quarter’s social scene–for those who actually live there. The story has Good Guys with shady backgrounds, crazy Bad Guys, and a dash of Voo Doo just to spice things up …”
A Newsvine.com review by Falkeep
“… With this specific work, however, I think that Asprin gave us a literary first … With his two books in his Dragon’s series (his last two books written before NO Quarter AND, interestingly enough, his first two books written in a LONG time without any co-authors), Asprin created the French Quarter settings which he then also used as the setting for NO Quarter. Minor characters from the background of the Dragons series also appear in NO Quarter, including that of Maestro (a character Asprin based on himself) moving from a walk-on role in the Dragons books to a lead role in NO Quarter …”
A Goodreads review by Stu
” … action-suspense-thriller-mystery-ho, creme-de-la-creme—gold-stars, louisiana-lit–This is one of the rare books that wouldn’t let me sleep at night. The best New Orleans book I have ever read.”
An Amazon.com review by Trith Dietz
“A dark and suspensful tale that is a departure into the mystery world for the three fantasy authors who wrote it. Definitely brings the French Quarter to life with a gritty realism that only a native could create. A brilliant departure from Robert Asprins usual humorous fantasy work.”
A note from Tom Knowles, editor of DarkStar Books
to the fans of Robert Asprin
NO Quarter isn’t exactly Bob Asprin’s last book–there are others forthcoming from outlines and partials–but it is the last book he completed, wrote through from beginning to end. It’s also unique, for two reasons:
First, Bob’s friends and those fans who got to meet him at conventions and filks will easily recognize his only somewhat fictionalized self portrait in the character of the mysterious, pool-playing fencing master and wise man/wise guy known as Maestro. Bob often put his personal philosophy into the mouths of his lead character, but for NO Quarter and Maestro, he anted up a bit of his soul.
Second, NO Quarter is a suspense/dark fantasy novel that is a crossover/spin-off from a fantasy series–something that has not, to this editor’s knowledge, ever been accomplished before by any author. Although the fantasy and horror elements (voodoo, tarot readings and precognition, ghosts) are less in evidence, it is set in the same milieu as Bob’s Dragons Luck and Dragons Wild novels. Fans of that series will already be familiar with NO Quarter’s two protagonists, Maestro and Bone, as well as other denizens of NO Quarter’s dangerous, haunted, and clannish French Quarter, from their minor roles in the strange life of Griffen McCandles, the Dragon gambler.
NO Quarter is remarkable in other ways as well.
Bob planned this novel with Eric Del Carlo after they met and became friends in the French Quarter. They alternated chapters, Bob writing Maestro’s viewpoint, Eric writing Bone’s. What shines through both writers’ prose is a love for the old French Quarter that existed before Katrina smashed in to alter it forever–a love that neither excuses nor attempts to conceal that city-within-a-city’s dangers and disappointments.
Maestro’s chapters are classic Asprin, this because Maestro is the classic Asprin hero … just written a bit darker, more reminiscent of his Thieves World than his Myth Adventures. The inimitable Asprin humor is there throughout, along with the tension between student and mentor, and the journey of self-discovery that both of them take during the course of a friendship. Bone’s chapters, written in Eric’s distinctive voice, offer an acerbic contrast that works to complement and highlight Asprin’s characterization of Maestro. The two characters, as did the two writers, work well together and push each other in new directions.
When Bill Fawcett offered the book to DarkStar, Bob and Eric had brought it to a third-draft level. Because both authors had other commitments, Bob had suggested that long-time friend and author Teresa Patterson, who was familiar with the French Quarter and its culture, give the book its final polish to smooth out its rough spots. We signed the contract … and then, not long after, Robert Asprin–my friend and a friend to just about everyone who met him–closed his eyes for the last time.
Despite that sad occurance, we pushed the project on to completion. Eric and Teresa’s edits and refinements resulted in a novel that I believe is a fitting tribute to our friend, Bob Asprin. DarkStar published it in a quality trade paperback edition in November 2009.
Because the major chain stores are deadly serious about categories and placement, you’ll likely find NO Quarter in the mystery section instead of the SF/F section beside Bob’s other books–but make no mistake, it’s an Asprin book, and in this editor’s opinion, one of his finest works.