When a national disaster strikes, "first the living" is the rule.
Unless you're the Bug Man.
When Hurricane Katrina strikes New Orleans, forensic entomologist Nick Polchak signs up to help with the recovery effort. He is known as the Bug Man for his knowledge of insects and what they can reveal about the dead. The government's mandate is clear—rescue the living first, recover the dead later.
But something is very wrong in the toxic soup-bowl of post-Katrina New Orleans.
Someone is using the cover of disaster to kill . . . hiding the victims of murder in the same watery grave as the victims of Katrina.
It's a tale only the dead can tell. But no one besides the Bug Man is listening.
" . . . stands out from the pack of CSI-inspired mysteries with its quirky hero and creative handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster."
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Downs's third thriller to feature forensic entomologist Nick "Bug Man" Polchak (after 2004's Chop Shop) stands out from the pack of CSI-inspired mysteries with its quirky hero and creative handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Polchak an expert in using bugs to deduce the time and circumstances of death is a member of DMORT, the disaster mortuary operational response team, used by FEMA to assist with mass casualties. As the deadly hurricane nears New Orleans, DMORT is called to the area, and Polchak soon finds himself locking horns with his superiors, who demand DMORT members make search and rescue their priority. After discovering several floating corpses with injuries pointing to deaths prior to Katrina, Polchak suspects that someone is using the disaster to conceal murder. He's aided by J.T. Walker, a young man searching for his father amid the chaos, who manages to get through the emotional barriers Polchak has erected against the outside world. Downs's sensitive evocation of the tragedy, combined with taut writing and well-developed characters, should gain him a wider audience and reward longtime Bug Man fans.