Down in the Flood Review
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As Hurricane Katrina bears down on Louisiana, former New Orleans prosecutor Danny Chaisson tries to keep a material witness in a construction industry bid-rigging case under wraps until he testifies before the Grand Jury. Right before the storm hits, though, the witness disappears.

Two corrupt ex-cops working for the wealthy defendant learn the identity of the witness and begin to stalk him, determined to shut him up permanently if they can’t “persuade” him to back away from testifying. Once the world learns that the levees were built with less than perfect material—and they won’t hold during a category five hurricane—the company will lose billions.

As the city evacuates around him, Danny stays to find the witness who counted on him for protection. He simply will not leave him to the mercy of the storm or the relentless thugs who pursue him. Once the hurricane blows through and the water starts to rise, Danny wonders if he’ll be able to win this one—and if his witness even survived Hurricane Katrina.

I was quite a few chapters into Down in the Flood before it really began to interest me—because there’s just too much boring story build-up to get me hooked. But once the hurricane hits, and in the aftermath of the disaster, the book becomes a little more interesting.

Though Danny Chaisson is a likable character with a big heart—especially for those he strives to protect—I still found Jabril, an African American small business owner, to be the book’s most compelling character. He struggles with his disdain for the white man and the government as he does his best to help “his” people before and after Hurricane Katrina, but his heart won’t let him shut out the “others” who come seeking shelter. In the end, he learns what he’s suspected all along: that the fault doesn’t lie solely on one group’s shoulders—a disaster has a way of bringing out the truth.

Author Kenneth Abel brings out the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in vivid detail—the black, oily, germ-infested floodwater, the looters, and the downtrodden people left in its wake—while wrapping it around a central crime story. It’s sure to give you a different perspective on the hurricane from the one that most of us watched on our televisions. That alone makes it worth giving Down in the Flood a read.

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