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Extended Audio Sample Hell or High Water, by Joy Castro Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (253 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joy Castro Narrator: Roxanne Hernande Publisher: Dreamscape Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Nola Céspedes Mysteries Release Date:
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Nola Cespedes, an ambitious young reporter at the Times-Picayune, finally catches a break: an assignment to write her first full-length feature. While investigating her story, she also becomes fixated on the search for a missing tourist in the French Quarter. As Nola’s work leads her into a violent criminal underworld, she’s forced to face disturbing truths from her own past.

Vividly rendered in razor-sharp prose, this haunting thriller is a riveting journey of trust betrayedand the courageous struggle to rebuild. Fast-paced, atmospheric, and with a knockout twist, Joy Castro’s Hell or High Water features an unforgettable heroine as fascinating and multi-layered as New Orleans itself.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A terrific mystery, but Hell or High Water is more than just a mystery; it’s a heartfelt examination of a second America—poor but undaunted—that was swept under the rug but refuses to stay there.”

    Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Mystic River

  • Hell or High Water is so thick and rich with authentic New Orleans details that you’ll be wiping sweat off your brow and smelling the crawfish étouffée.”

    New York Times bestselling author of The Maggie O’Dell series, Whitewash and One False Move

  • Hell or High Water is a tightly written thriller. Nola’s first-person perspective and her witty, often cutting dialogue will make the reader believe in the character and really care for her and what happens to her…Like the city for which she was named, Nola is damaged yet unbeaten…an exciting, incisive novel.”

    El Paso Times

  • “Readers who enjoy psychological thrillers will find this a fascinating look into an intriguing city. Nola is a feisty character.”

    Library Journal

  • “Exquisite New Orleans background, intriguing newsroom politics and atmosphere, a flawed but plucky heroine, and skillfully paced suspense makes this a ‘stay up way past your bedtime’ read.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Castro’s first mystery is fierce and intense, with both harrowing depictions of New Orleans after Katrina and psychological mayhem for its troubled heroine, who crawls under your skin and lingers there long after you’ve finished reading.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “An irresistible and compelling novel.”

    Lorraine M. López, author of Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories

  • A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Mystery/Suspense
  • One of the 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books: Mysteries

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jodie Thill | 2/9/2014

    " I was drawn in by the narrator's storytelling and her exquisite descriptions of New Orleans. For a visitor, it gives an interesting glimpse into life before and after Katrina from someone not flooded out but still greatly affected by the storm and it's aftermath. I found Nola believable and someone I would like to read more about her life and what happens after the end of the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Richard Gazala | 2/6/2014

    " Some scars never heal, but not all. Some will start to heal when forced. That's the theme of author Joy Castro's well-written and provocative new thriller, "Hell or High Water." This dark novel is set in New Orleans in 2008, three years after Katrina savaged the city and everyone in it. It's a tale of self-discovery and redemption centering on New Orleans Times-Picayune style section reporter Nola Cespedes. Nola is a fiercely independent young woman, armed to the teeth with a Tulane journalism degree but not quite sure how to use it. She has a deep understanding of her hometown wrought from being raised nights in its dangerous Desire Projects by her single mother (a refugee from Fidel Castro's Cuba), while spending her childhood days in an expensive private Catholic school in the French Quarter courtesy of an educational grant. Grown up and longing to leave New Orleans for the seemingly brighter pastures of Manhattan and The New York Times, Nola is ecstatic when she lands an important assignment to write her first full-length feature --- a piece on what happened to New Orleans's sexual predators and their victims in Katrina's disastrous aftermath. Done well, the story could be her golden ticket out of New Orleans. But first she must complete her research and writing about rapacious monsters haunting the wounded city while a female tourist ominously disappears from the French Quarter in broadest daylight. In an increasingly desperate struggle against New Orleans' devils, and her own, Nola battles to unearth stories that have no desire to be pried from their grim hideaways. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Bryn Greenwood | 2/2/2014

    " Although I found the book readable and enjoyed it, I have a bit of a quibble about it being promoted as a crime thriller. It really isn't. There's a crime at the heart of the story, but the main story doesn't really function as a crime novel. It's much more a personal growth sort of story with a crime involved. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Kevin | 1/23/2014

    " The descriptions of tourist New Orleans made my mouth water for beignets, po-boys and etouffee. The descriptions of the dark underside of New Orleans made me want to hide my kids and hide my wife. "

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About the Author

Joy Castro teaches literature, creative writing, and Latino studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Her 2005 memoir, The Truth Book, was elected an ABA Book Sense Notable Book.