Clarisse Dufresne is blessed with an astonishing voice. Unfortunately, it’s a blessing the struggling Twin Cities nightclub singer shares with internationally renowned pop diva Sheila Lews. So similar are their singing styles, in fact, that Clarisse is often accused of mimicking the famed singer.
When the legendary Lews dies under puzzling circumstances, Clarisse is approached by agents of a shadowy international crime syndicate with a proposition – “What if, after a period of time, say five years – yeah, make it five years – it was discovered that Sheila had left behind some unmixed tracks, songs she had been working on before she died but didn’t release? What do you think a find like that would be worth?”
Clarisse refuses to participate in the fraud and an attempt is made to silence her voice forever. She is rescued by a mysterious man named Maurice Crevier, who conceals both his face and his intentions behind a black, obsidian mask. He spirits her away to his seductive mansion on St. Paul’s famed Summit Avenue – “for her own safety.”
But the savior soon becomes Clarisse’s tormentor when she learns that she is not his guest as he professes, but his prisoner – using computer sleight of hand and other elaborate tricks, he makes Clarisse virtually disappear in such a way that not even her friends miss her.
“You will be safe only as long as you remain in the mansion,” she is told.
Yet, even that is a lie. Clarisse soon discovers that the man in the black mask arranged the earlier attempt on her life in order to secure her trust. Later, as part of an elaborate and brutal scheme to lure the leaders of the crime family into his clutches, he allows Clarisse to be kidnapped in a terrifying encounter that brings the formerly carefree woman to the verge of death.
Despite it all – and against her better judgment – Clarisse feels a growing fascination and affection for her jailer, as well as his odd henchmen – a voodoo-practicing Haitian and a young chef who is haunted by the ghost of her mother. Until a second attempt is made on her life. And a third.
Written by husband-wife team David Housewright and Renee Valois, THE DEVIL AND THE DIVA is a gothic suspense romantic thriller crime novel that features gun battles, sword fights, dungeons, secret passageways, ghosts, smokey jazz joints, multiple chase scenes, ancient ex-Nazis longing for the good old days, Viet Cong guerrillas turned entrepreneurs, voodoo-practicing Haitians, urbane crime lords who collect 1920’s gangster paraphernalia and yes, sex. It’s a lot of fun.
“It’s wonderful. I loved Clarisse – smart, witty and human. Maurice (the man in the black mask) was quite the romantic figure, yet still human, too, with those little foibles that make a girl want to smash him in his obsidian nose and then kiss him and make it better… The story was outrageous, and I totally bought into it. I was sorry when it ended.” ~ Deborah Woodworth, author of “Dancing Dead”
DAVID HOUSEWRIGHT is an Edgar Award-winning author of the Rushmore McKenzie and Holland Taylor novels as well as other tales of murder and mayhem. He has written 12 books including Penance (1996 Edgar Award winner and Shamus nominee), Practice to Deceive (1998 Minnesota Book Award winner), Tin City (2006 Minnesota Book Award nominee), Jelly’s Gold (2010 Minnesota Book Award winner), The Taking of Libbie, SD (2011 Minnesota Book Award nominee) and Highway 61. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and publications.
RENEE VALOIS is an award-winning writer whose fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines such as Fallout and Studio One. Her reviews and articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines ranging from the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minneapolis Tribune to the History Channel Magazine and ICON (the magazine of the American Society of Interior Designers). She has also written numerous television and radio commercials, video scripts and ads for clients such as McDonald’s, Harley Davidson, Mall of America, Levi’s and Aveda.