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Have you read: Mystery incorporates current events

Nancy Hayden

“Cajun Snuff” by W. Randy Haynes

“I’ve never thought of myself as a writer,” said W. Randy Haynes, who was a resident of South Lake Tahoe from 1994 to 2000. Even with the publishing of his first novel, “Cajun Snuff,” he still doesn’t.

Haynes should reconsider that statement since “Cajun Snuff” was one of four finalists selected for the 2006 Lambda Literary Award. “Cajun Snuff” shows that Haynes has a real talent for writing as he spins a traditional mystery, while incorporating many of the issues of the day. Among those issues are hurricanes in southern Louisiana, racism, bigotry and the struggle between the political left and right for America’s soul. He is knowledgeable about the area and people he is writing about and weaves a story that keeps the reader eagerly turning pages.

Hayne’s novel, an intriguing mystery for people who like to root for the underdogs of the world, has a bit of an edge to it.

“Some people might not like that edge, but in my world everyone deserves to have a hero. I hope special agent Adam Stephen and Verda Hamilton become heroes for those people still looking,” Haynes said.

As a disabled Vietnam veteran, the process of writing “Cajun Snuff” was a therapeutic outlet for Haynes.

“Living at Tahoe with the long winters and 20 feet of snow piled up outside, boredom took over and writing became my winter outlet,” he said.

When the mutilated body of a black U.S. Congressman and a Christian minister is found in the steamy bayous of southwestern Louisiana, special agent Adam Stephen of the ultra-conservative FBI Counterterrorism Division has the perfect qualities needed to be the lead investigator. Stephen discovers that the Congressman may have appeared respectable, but finds muddy surprises and vicious enemies instead. From a New Orleans Garden District widow to a bizarre Neo-Nazi group, the suspect list reads like a recipe for a spicy bowl of swamp snake gumbo – and Stephen appears to be the next ingredient.

A sixth-generation Texan, Haynes graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and is a member of the Cherokees of California. While living at Tahoe he started the Lake Tahoe Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, attended Lake Tahoe Community College and was active in politics. He lives with his family in Northern California, where he is working on a sequel to “Cajun Snuff.” The new book takes place in Northern California, including Tahoe, and should be released next spring.

“Cajun Snuff” is available in paperback through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or can be ordered through your local bookstore.

– Nancy Oliver Hayden is the community editor at the Tahoe Daily Tribune.


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