A hard-boiled private eye who loves his kids and a daughter who seeks to imitate her father’s exploits team up in this wide-ranging mystery/history saga.
Harry Lark is a private investigator. In that role he understands the criminal mind, engages in less than legal activities when his work requires it, and tries to keep an eye on the bottom line, because in his other role, divorced father of two, he must pay for braces and occasionally do some serious child-minding. The novel begins in 1961 when Harry is approached by someone wanting Harry to keep an eye on a pair of shady guys from D.C. who may be connected in some way to plans now developing to bring NASA to Houston, aka the Bayou City. There are a lot of legitimate interests in the new facility and some covert wheeling and dealing as well. Harry finds himself stuck in the middle of these high-level games.
Meanwhile his 12-year-old daughter, Dizzy (short for Desdemona), has started a neighborhood Lost and Found. Her own PI instincts come to the fore when a little girl wanders in asking Dizzy and her friends to find her dead father, who she is sure is still alive. Once Dizzy starts needing a bit more sophisticated assistance like fingerprint analysis, Harry steps in and is amazed at his daughter’s already well-developed tracking and tracing abilities. Together they go on a hunt for the missing man.
The author of Bayou City Burning, D. B. Borton (the Cat Caliban and Gilda Liberty mystery series) is a native Texan who was entranced with Nancy Drew as a youngster and has created in Dizzy a fellow admirer of the Drew books and a fine example of a youthful female sleuth. This story spans multiple fictional themes combined skillfully with real history, all of which impinge on the lives of the central characters: the creation of the NASA facility and reasons behind the choice of Houston for that singular honor; the troubled years of racial desegregation in the Bayou City; and the political operatives in the background pulling the strings in both realms. Borton pulls together all this intrigue--and plenty of simple human interaction along the way--with scintillating, sometimes hilarious dialogue that avoids profanity so that older children and teens can fully enjoy Dizzy’s part in the proceedings without parental guidance. Harry Lark is as believable and likable as he is tough and street-smart. Dizzy and her friends gleefully navigate the protocols of criminal investigation, learning as they go.
Action-packed, the tale maintains a steady galloping pace. There’s a new twist in every chapter. Borton fans new and established will surely agree that Bayou City Burning cries for a sequel.