Tupelo Gypsy by Vito Zuppardo is Book One in a planned Voodoo Lucy Series. Since this was published in 2018, I can’t complain that there are few books in the series. I look forward to reading more from the author in this series. I was surprised to finish 166 pages so quickly, but the story entertained me so much that the time flew by for this single session read.
Lucinda Jones, also known as Lucy, Lucia, and Voodoo Lucy, lives in New Orleans. A city with a mysterious past filled with hints of superstition and dark magic, New Orleans is not Lucy’s birthplace. She is, in fact, a new arrival. Eight months ago, along with her mother, Wanda, who also has hints of a dark past, the two had moved to New Orleans in search of a fresh start. Perhaps someone is pursuing them from their past lives. She hoped that her father would join her and her mother, but after seeing the look in her father’s eyes as they said their goodbyes, she could not be certain she would see him again. The family had crashed and burned in Tupelo, Mississippi. Evicted from their home, it was time for a do-over. Maybe New Orleans would be more friendly.
The two women had found a small apartment above the Bluff Salon. Free lodging, a small salary, and tips allowed for a comfortable lifestyle. The salon’s owner, Vivian Bluff, had several business activities going in the salon. There were the psychic readings, done exclusively by Vivian in an upstairs room of the salon. Most of the customers were men and there were hints of another type of business that also was conducted by Vivien in the small room above the stairs. Lucy guessed that psychic readings might be illegal in New Orleans. Maybe that was the reason Vivian had to contribute weekly payoffs to Felipe Cruz and his son of the Cornerview Gang. Vivien shrugged off the weekly visits to collect payoffs; it was just a cost of doing business. Felipe visited several edgy businesses weekly. There were never problems from the police.
Lucy was a worker at the salon. She cleaned, swept up around the chairs of hairdressers, served drinks to the customers, and listened to their frequent complaints about their lots in life. She was initially unaware of her own motives for occasionally bagging, tagging and keeping some of the hair clippings she swept up. Lucy was an observer. She knew from observations that there was much to be learned from watching a person’s body language such as facial tics and their reactions to items of overheard conversation. The new knowledge about customers would support their belief in Lucy’s psychic predictions. Lucy also set up an independent business as a street vendor selling Voodoo dolls. She had found a use for the collected customer hair.
Lucy did not believe in Voodoo, but she knew the power of making predictions backed up by a customer belief in some support of a visible token. What follows are several anecdotes or adventures as Lucy devises several very clever schemes that allow salon clients to realize their dreams to escape unpleasant conditions. Lucy helps Gabby with a cheating husband. Gabby believes the doll Lucy provided was the catalyst for changed husband behavior. Lucy lets her believe the power of the doll to be true and Gabby remained ignorant of Lucy’s background machinations.
Not all schemes went smoothly. Looming over everything as a possible spoiler was Picklehead, the ugly, vicious, enforcer for the protection racket of boss Felipe Cruz. Lucy would have to deal with, as in the sense of eliminating, the threat of Picklehead. Lucy initiates a series of clever schemes and eventually improves her position in life to the point where she becomes a trusted leader of her colleagues and a source of help for her boss. Not everything goes well, and this very interesting story progresses as Lucy erases sources of conflict with her planned new life. This five-star Amazon read relates life in the shadows of a world in which the mysticism of Voodoo meets the realities of criminal exploitation.