Only in New Orleans.
Let’s face it. Certain locations are known for the idiosyncratic behavior of their locals and if one were to compose a list of cities where unique personalities abound, The Big Easy would be found near the top. Why? Certainly the rich mixture of its cultures and cuisine, its history and traditions are formative elements of character, in the sense of personal standards and moral fiber, and characters, in the sense of true individualists who march to the beat of their own drummer.
Federal Judge Jock Boucher is a renegade because he does not limit the search for justice to his courtroom. In Ice Fire he gets to the bottom of things in the most literal sense, going almost five miles down to the bottom of the ocean in a three-man submarine to confirm facts to his own satisfaction – and almost loses his life in the process.
He’s a renegade because though a judge, when he’s threatened he meets force with equal force, dispensing justice with his bare hands when necessary – and not hesitant in the least to enforce the death penalty. And bad guys who make the mistake of threatening Jock’s life while trespassing on his property? His beloved antebellum home in the French Quarter? You can be sure there will be no mercy for these guys from his court.
To confess, there’s an element of vengeance in his judgments – especially when someone he cares for is in danger. He’ll single-handedly take on a gang of gorillas outside a Zydeco roadside bar to protect his lady, and when innocent women who have trusted him end up killed by villains who will stop at nothing to achieve their aims, his retribution knows no bounds. He’ll get them; even if it means he has to set himself up as bait. Fear is not a factor with Jock Boucher.
Fearless renegade though he may be, he is not a rock. He can be brought down by his girlfriend’s failure to call him on the phone. A woman’s harsh word can hurt him more than a crashing fist – or a well-aimed bullet.
He’s a man’s man, a former competitive boxer who stays fit and whose best friend is a New Orleans Detective. Their conversations involve mostly blood and bullets. But his passion is collecting antique furniture for his historic French Quarter home. Huh? What’s that about?
He’s a ladies’ man because he’s attractive, successful, intelligent and thoughtful. But he’s conflicted. He’s torn between commitment to a relationship, and commitment to doing in dirt bags. And the latter seems to be a full-time occupation.
OK, so maybe such a character can be found in many places. But the manager of perhaps the finest hotel in New Orleans told me that Jock Boucher reminded him of many of his clients.
That’s good enough for me.