Papa La-Bas by John Dickson Carr

The  Homicidal Colonel cover

Papa La-Bas by John Dickson Carr was published in 1969. The setting is 1858 New Orleans, it’s an unstable time as people can feel the probability of civil war in the near future. The story involves voodoo which is apparently called Papa La-Bas in New Orleans and isn’t always a force for evil, it can be used for good too.

There’s murder, romance, American southern gentility and for me it didn’t half drag, but I struggled on to the end, probably because there was a likeable Scotsman in it. As I recall John Dickson Carr was of Scottish extraction.

I did have a bit of a laugh at one point though as a character says: “I won’t ask about the state of the banking business. I won’t even ask whether any widows and orphans have been swindled today.” So nothing changes.

I’d read a couple of his historical mysteries before this one and quite enjoyed them, but for me the best thing about this book was the cover, I like the look of those US paddle steamers. I blame Mark Twain!

6 thoughts on “Papa La-Bas by John Dickson Carr

  1. I just finished this book this morning. I’m a big fan of Carr’s historical fiction, but this is one of his weak late career works. Gone is the vibrancy and sense of adventure you get from books like Fire Burn or The Demoniacs. Instead you get a dry rambling mess that manages to even make the voodoo theme boring.

    • Ben,

      I agree. I have actually read and blogged about Fire,Burn and The Demoniacs and as I recall liked those ones a lot more. I suspect that John Dickson Carr was just getting a bit past it by the time he wrote this one. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.


  2. We’ve taken two cruises (so far) on the American Queen – a sternwheeler. First , in 2015, down the Mississippi River from Memphis TN to New Orleans LA, and thisplast summer down the Ohio River from Louisville KY to St Louis MO. Really neat – the interiors are also done up c. Mark Twain’s era.

    • Carolyn,
      I must admit that an experience like that would be high up on my bucket list – if I had one. I still don’t fancy flying again so it isn’t going to happen, unless the boffins can transport me there in a flash.

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