The Laced Chameleon was a standout in several ways: it included more than a casual dose of New Orleans atmosphere, it packed in some history I didn't know about, and it presented a strong female protagonist: all elements that make this more than your usual genre read.

The novel is set in 1862 New Orleans during the Civil War, when the Union Army occupied New Orleans, and delves into the social and racial structure of the city by presenting the life of a 'quadroon' (a person resulting from biracial sex, with three white grandparents) who moves in the world of rich white men.

Part of what makes The Laced Chameleon such a well-done approach is that Francesca's world is vividly portrayed. She doesn't just fall into the role of an investigator - she's pushed in. Her skills at surviving her world will serve her well in her new role, because life just got a lot more complicated.

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