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A fast moving murder mystery with twists and turns right to the epilogue. As a beach read, this is a cracker.

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Read it at night and it certainly will keep you up. For after the prologue, Jackson slips into her real agenda, and out of your comfort zone. A fast-paced and surprisingly complex story. The depiction of the protagonist. She has over twenty million copies of her books in print in nineteen languages. She lives with her family and a rambunctious pug in the Pacific Northwest. Find out more at www.

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From the Place in the Valley Deep in the Forest. Ari Kelman, Historian : The interesting thing about that Good Friday flood is that there's a huge river flood slowly bearing down on the city; one of the biggest floods in the nation's history. The flood is, is moving slowly and inexorably toward New Orleans and so when the city fills with water, it has nothing to do with the Mississippi River at all, it's just a big rainstorm. But the national press corps is in New Orleans already, because it's covering this huge river flood and their photographers just take pictures of a flooded city.

And they juxtaposed those images with stories of this horrendous river flood and so it fuels panic. Local wholesalers already had slashed their prices in a desperate effort to unload inventories. Anxious residents, meanwhile, were building boats, withdrawing huge sums from the banks, scrambling to get out of town. By the close of business on Good Friday, most of the bankers in town, including Butler, had received urgent wires from New York and elsewhere demanding assurances as to the city's safety. Ari Kelman, Historian : So they decide that they've got to do something drastic.

They've got to demonstrate to investors that their money is safe. They've got to demonstrate to themselves, to the city of New Orleans that they are safe, that they're not going to be washed away in this river flood that's moving toward them. So they decide to blow up the levee below the city.

John Barry, Writer : Dynamiting the levee would allow the river water to escape like pulling a plug out of a bathtub. The Corps of Engineers violently opposed the move. They understood how weak the entire flood control system was and that that system was going to break hundreds of miles above New Orleans. So that water was going to spread out over its natural flood plain and never get to the city. But Butler and the rest of the people in his group were determined they were going to dynamite the levee and they were going to use their political power to make it happen.

Narrator : They chose a site beyond the city limits, thirteen miles downriver from Canal Street, at a place called Poydras. Dynamiting the levee there would inundate all of St. All were now slated to be refugees. Within a week of the Good Friday Flood, Butler and his allies had organized themselves into the ad hoc Citizens Flood Relief Committee, and had manipulated the state's high-ranking elected officials into signing off on the plan to blow the Poydras levee.

Ari Kelman, Historian : They ask for the, the right to blow up the levee below the city, and they get it, because of who they are.

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  • To say no to them is politically suicidal. Narrator : On Wednesday, April 27th, residents of the soon-to-be-flooded parishes evacuated their homes, amid promises that they would be compensated for their losses.

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    Butler, meanwhile, composed a wire destined for banks and investors all across the country. New Orleans never has been flooded by Mississippi River and in our judgment never will be. Two days later, with spectators jamming the road that ran south to St. Bernard Parish and the families of St. Charles Avenue watching from their yachts in the river, the charges were set at Poydras. Ari Kelman : They invite members of the press corps from throughout the United States and the world to go and view this.

    They do flyovers with military aircraft to make sure that the area is secure. And then at a certain moment they lower the plunger and there's this massive explosion and then nothing happens. It's a big dud. It turns out that the levee is better constructed than anyone thought.

    Narrator : It would take ten days and 39 tons of dynamite to finally breach the levee. Before the job was finished, another levee upriver would give way, just as predicted. Ari Kelman, Historian : There was never any real reason to blow up the levee and that's probably the most tragic element of the story. For St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish and the people who live there it's a disaster.

    Makes them virtually uninhabitable for many, many months. The Citizens Flood Relief Committee promise that they're going to give them reparations. And they never make good on that promise. John Barry, Writer : While these 12, refugees, created by the city of New Orleans were being housed in warehouses, Jim Butler and his colleagues decided that they would deduct the cost of feeding these people from any settlement that they gave them.

    They simply stiffed the victims. So what this flood did was wash away the surface and reveal what lay beneath. And what lay beneath was some pretty ruthless people who would use power for what they regarded as the best interest of the city. John Scott, Artist : You have to be a strange kind of being to live in a place this dangerous by nature. I mean we live in a bowl, surrounded by water, on a flood plain.

    You can't bury people below ground, because in the heavy rain caskets will pop up. We've lived with yellow fever mosquitoes, and we keep going. Survival by improvisation. Krewe Member 2 : So we have here a destroyed house, and we're going to have, this is Rita and that's Katrina, in bed together. It's been an interesting project because myself, and of course many other people in fact do live in flooded houses.

    And when we first came up with the idea I wasn't too keen on it. Interestingly as the month's gone on and we've kind of made jokes about destroyed houses and everything, it's actually had a healing process for many of us. Krewe Member 3 : The concept is that since we're having so much trouble getting the federal government to take care of responsibilities of building things back, maybe the French will do better. So by Krewe Member 4 : Our theme this year is "there's no place like home.

    Krewe Member 5 : I know there was controversy about whether we should have Mardi Gras or not, when we have to do this sort of stuff, you know, to reenergize ourselves.

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    Krewe Member 6 : Well, everybody's been making fun of the whole thing, because that's the only way you keep your sanity. We can't give this up, this is what we're made of. Ari Kelman, Historian : There's something to be said for the fact that when New Orleans faces adversity, when it's dealing with tragedy, when it's down on its luck, New Orleans' answer always is to pop the corks and have a good meal and then go dancing.

    Tom Piazza, Writer : One of the main things that you learn from New Orleans is how to participate in life as it unfolds. You learn to embrace the fact that you can't control everything in advance.

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    We have just a little while to stay here, and if we are lucky enough to make it to the table again for one more meal, then that fact needs to be celebrated and fully experienced and lived to the hilt. By the end of the decade, New Orleans had become the literary capital of the American South.

    Liquor was very inexpensive and readily available, even though it was illegal everywhere in the country. All of those elements I think combined, to create a place comfortable for the writer or the artist to be here and to be let alone. Powell, Historian : It's always been a special scene where you could And if you're marginal, if you know an exile from your own, own culture, this is a place I think where you can find some room to find Narrator : Now, late on the night of December 26th, , a bus from Memphis deposited another young writer on the dark, narrow streets of New Orleans.

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    Lugging a wind-up phonograph, a portable typewriter and a bound ledger he used as a journal, he made his way to a small hotel on St. Charles Avenue, and checked in for the night. After months of living in his parents' home in St. Less than forty-eight hours after he arrived, he confided to his journal: "Here surely is the place that I was made for if any place on this funny old world.

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    Rick Bragg, Writer : New Orleans offered homes to creative people and troubled people and people who didn't fit where they were so they came here to try to find some kind of acceptance and some kind of more than acceptance You can find acceptance, but New Orleans gave you acceptance and happiness. It let you dance with people like you. Narrator : Williams' first days in New Orleans were a revelation. The Quarter is really quainter than anything I have seen abroad, alive with antique and curio shops.

    Abandoned by white Creoles in the years after the Civil War, the Quarter since had been home mainly to Italian immigrants and poor blacks.