HIGHER GROUND is a comic noir novel that begins five months after a hurricane has devastated New Orleans. Nicole Naquin, home for the first time in decades, is living next door to her mother Miss Gertie, an elderly evacuee from Lakeview reduced to pushing pills in a French Quarter gay bar. On the day Nicole's brother is killed in a drive-by shooting, she crashes the car into her high-school sweetheart's FEMA trailer, igniting a sexy romance among the ruins. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Vinnie Panarello works at furious cross-purposes with hippie sleuth Gary Cherry to find the brother's killer, uncovering a murderous cult on Rampart Street in the process.
This Faulkner-Wisdom Gold Medal-winning novel is a darkly satiric romp through a city fighting for its life, from the mayoral election to Mardi Gras, Lakeview to the French Quarter, the Garden District to Parish Prison. It's a classic story of individual redemption amid collective destruction, one in which crooked politicians rule the day, leaving displaced home owners, bereaved mothers, drag queens, drug dealers, and illegal immigrants to band together for survival and justice.
“In the frame of a page-turning noir, James Nolan has painted the most chillingly loving portrait of New Orleans. He is the Baudelaire of the post-Katrina city, and both its poetry and horror emanate from this story like a bouquet of carrion and jasmine.”
-Andrei Codrescu, NPR commentator and author of "Whatever Gets You through the Night"
“Like the indomitable city it celebrates, 'Higher Ground' is lively, sensuous, and hot.”
-Valerie Martin, author of "The Confessions of Edward Day"
“'Higher Ground' is the funniest book I've read in years. James Nolan gets New Orleans like no one but a born-and-bred native really can. No doubt there will be comparisons to John Kennedy Toole, and they'll be deserved.”
-Julie Smith, author of the Skip Langdon mysteries
“If John Kennedy Toole had lived through Katrina and could turn a phrase as well as James Nolan, he might have followed 'Confederacy of Dunces' with a novel like 'Higher Ground.' Read this and weep with laughter.”
-Jed Horne, author of "Breach of Faith"
“'Higher Ground' is a deluge of delights—spectacular characters, fine mystery, astounding transformations, and marvelous images of the Big Easy after the storm. An instant classic of post-Katrina lit.”
-Moira Crone, author of "What Gets Into Us"