Part mystery, part horror novel, this unusual thriller offers a rich gumbo made up of equal parts voodoo, Cajun history, and New Orleans ambience. The tale opens with an utterly horrifying murder-suicide in which a seemingly ordinary man suddenly goes berserk, burning his family and himself to death. Other murder- suicides follow, linked only by the fact that all the killers were humming nursery rhymes just prior to the mayhem. New Orleans medical examiner Andy Broussard and police psychologist Kit Franklyn investigate, determined to find a rational explanation for the crimes, which seem more and more to be the result of a voodoo-inspired curse. First-novelist Donaldson, a forensic pathologist, leaves the reader with a fine sense of ambiguity regarding the ultimate solution: yes, there is an explanation, but the possibility of supernatural goings-on is never entirely eliminated. We close this remarkably intoxicating book like a first-time visitor leaves New Orleans: giddy, a bit disoriented, and much less confident in our own assumptions about life. It's just the humidity, we tell ourselves, but do we really mean it? BO.