Published Books

  • "SHOOT THE MONEY" New Book Release

    From the author of The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld, comes an edgy novel, a racy gumbo of suspense, comedy, and “sisters-in-crime.”

    Karen and Raynie are roommates hiding from sticky pasts. When vengeful gangsters and old boyfriends descend, Karen can’t hide from the Miami thug who wants his money back, and Raynie’s would-be rapist gets a gun and goes on a rampage. To top it off, Karen’s boss, LaDonna, has a young lover with a new idea that turns dangerous. The three women unite to face the repercussions of the stolen money and the violence that ensues. From Mamou to Miami to New Orleans, money and friendship are at the heart of Shoot the Money as it explores women’s desires for big bucks, and they see what money does to those who have it, lose it, pursue it, or steal it. And what happens when they try a little revenge on their rapid chase toward a better life.

    They’ve got the money, they’re smart and they’re daring. And they’ve got a gun. They could just whip it out and shoot somebody, but that would be way too easy.


  • "THE LAST MADAM: A LIFE IN THE NEW ORLEANS UNDERWORLD" Biography. History. True Crime.

    The life of Norma Wallace, the French Quarter legend, who ran the last of the wide-open brothels in New Orleans.

    Norma Wallace grew up fast in the rough neighborhoods of New Orleans. In 1916, as an ambitious fifteen-year-old, she went to work as a street-walker in the French Quarter, but by 1920 was madam of what became one of the city’s most lavish brothels, an establishment frequented by politicians, movie stars, gangsters, and even the notoriously corrupt police force. For decades Norma flourished, a smart, glamorous, powerful woman whose scandalous life made front-page headlines. Her lovers ran the gamut from a bootlegger who shot her during a fight, to a famed bandleader, to the boy next door, thirty-nine years her junior, who became her fifth husband.

    Norma knew all of the Crescent City’s dirty little secrets and used them to protect her own interest—she never got so much as a traffic ticket—until the 1060s, when District Attorney Jim Garrison decided to clean up vice and corruption. After a jail stay, she went legitimate as successfully as she had gone criminal, with a lucrative restaurant business. To the end Norma maintained her independence, and surrendered only to an irrational, obsessive love, which ultimately led to her violent death.

    In The Last Madam, author Christine Wiltz combines original research with Wallace’s personal memoirs to bring to life an era in New Orleans history rife with charm and decadence, and to reveal the colorful woman who reigned as its underworld queen.


    Praise for The Last Madam:

    “In this world there are great characters who have no idea that they are great characters, and great characters who are fully aware of their greatness. Wallace must be counted among the latter. She had the wit of Dorothy Parker and the instinct for self-dramatization of Tallulah Bankhead.”
    Michael Lewis, New York Times Book Review

    “Christine Wiltz has done a remarkable and rare thing: she has captured perfectly the essential, earthy complexity of the most fascinating city on this continent. The Last Madam is an exhilarating mardi gras of a book.”
    Robert Olen Butler, author of Pulitzer Prize winner,A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

    “In New Orleans the water table is so high the underworld is never far beneath the surface. The Last Madam is a fascinating study of the unrivaled Mistress of that world, delightful and serious by turns, an insider’s look at an insider’s life in a city both know and love.”
    Valerie Martin, author of the Orange Prize winner, Property

    “This book takes the reader by the hand just as Norma’s girls did when they took a customer into one of her upstairs room. It’s always reassuring to be in the hands of a pro, and The Last Madam gives the reader this feeling right from the get-go. It provides as good an experience in its way as Wallace must have in hers.”
    David Cuthbert, Times-Picayune

    “Wiltz elevates…[an] impeccably assembled historical narrative above its elementary bawdy elements into something more elegant and fragile: the resurrection of a secret world like those uncovered by Luc Sante and James Ellroy.”
    Publishers Weekly


  • "THE KILLING CIRCLE" A Neal Rafferty Mystery

    NOTHING’S WHAT IT SEEMS IN NEW ORLEANS, BUT THIS MURDER WAS ONE FOR THE BOOKS…

    Two books to be exact; a missing set of William Blake rarities—and street-smart detective Neal Rafferty has been hired to find them.

    Instead, what he finds is the body of a rare book dealer and a growing list of females—each with a pretty good reason to do him in. There’s his all too ready to confess wife, his unhappy, illegitimate daughter, and the beautiful, sensual Catherine—a woman who’s a lot easier to love than she is to believe. What does a tough private eye do when he finds himself falling for the prime suspect in a murder case? The answers, and the truth, may be hiding in the steamy streets and sleazy bars of New Orleans, and Rafferty’s got to choose the right one…choose between a truth he can live with and one he could end up dying for. Praise for The Killing Circle:

    “A lean, smart, warm-centered mystery debut—rich in unromanticized New Orleans backgrounds, shrewd character sketches, and steady, non-corney action.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    “A well-made, Chandler-type private investigator caper.”
    Publishers Weekly

    “Wiltz brings a refreshing, individual outlook to the formula of hard-boiled detective fiction. Rafferty is his own man, less the loner and not as hard-edged as some shamuses.”
    Washington Post Book World


  • "A DIAMOND BEFORE YOU DIE" A Neal Rafferty Mystery

    Would-be district attorney Richard Cotton has hired private detective Neal Rafferty to keep tabs on his wife. His wife, Paula Cotton, has hired the cool and classy Lee Diamond to keep tabs on her husband. It’s almost Mardi Gras in New Orleans and when the masks go on they hide a multitude of sins.

    Like bribery, corruption and drug-running—not to mention Richard Cotton’s particular secret. And when the bodies start showing, Rafferty realizes that adultery is not the name of the game. In the gentleman’s city of New Orleans, all things eventually settle into the Mississippi River mud. It’s a question of what stays buried. Praise for A Diamond Before You Die:

    “A tangle of corrupt politics, drug-peddling and shifting alliances…A hot affair.”
    Publishers Weekly

    “So real are Wiltz’s depiction of her scenes that we are tempted to try to find Rafferty’s Euclid apartments on St. Charles [Avenue].
    New Orleans Times-Picayune

    “New Orleans-style vice, corruption, and political shenanigans are what it’s all about. Add the carnival atmosphere of Mardi Gras, several grisly murders, and former cop turned private investigator Neal Rafferty, and the result is a highly volatile concoction.”
    The Armchair Detective

    “Right up at the top of the list…ranks New Orleans private eye Neal Rafferty. A Diamond Before You Die is an elegant tale of sexual and political corruption with attractive characters, a tragic story and a very clever mystery.”
    Andrew Greeley, The Arizona Daily Star


  • "EMERALD LIZARD" A Neal Rafferty Mystery

    A phone call at midnight. A cocktail lounge on New Orleans’ West Bank. A young woman who wants to photograph prostitutes and re-create Bellocq’s famous Storyville portraits. And murder. These are the threads that lead private eye Neal Rafferty into a labyrinth of danger in the Crescent City…where crime is always hot, spicy, and full-flavored with suspense. The phone call is from his old girlfriend Jackie Silva. A loan shark named Bubba Brevna is threatening to collect from Jackie the traditional way…with pain. He’s already moved into her establishment—The Emerald Lizard—with a bouncer called Godzilla, some call girls, and a set of muscular twins with one brain between them who are running “chicken drop” contests on the dance floor.

    What Rafferty can’t foresee is that, within days, The Emerald Lizard will be torched and Jackie Silva will be dead; soon, the young photographer will be missing. Rafferty begins a dark journey of guilt, grief, and revenge amidst the stink of corruption that will send him into the deadly shadows of narrow streets and twisted hearts.

    Praise for The Emerald Lizard:

    “Criminal characters of psychological intensity and authenticity…Chris Wiltz is one of the stars in mystery and crime fiction…Her themes shine, and she writes with both humanity and heart.”
    James Lee Burke, Two-Time Edgar Award Winner for Best Novel

    “In his third appearance, two facts help likable, savvy News Orleans private eye Neal Rafferty solve this fast-paced, baffling mystery: 1) during recent hard time in the Louisiana oil patch, shylocks were charging 50% interest; and 2) before the ban on commercial fishing of redfish, the price was soaring in response to the national craze for the blackened delicacy. Against this background…Wiltz brings a story suffused with love for her hometown to a smashing, stormy climax. More, please.
    Publishers Weekly

    “Wiltz has a particular knack for creating sexy, dangerous women…”
    Providence Sunday Journal

    “Lizard darts about like its namesake, and there is never a dull scene. Wiltz knows her hometown and can make it crackle. And her hero Neal is as rough as Bourbon Street.”
    The Houston Post


  • "GLASS HOUSE"

    A novel inspired by the true story of a lone policeman who was killed at the edge of one of the most dangerous housing projects in New Orleans.

    Thea Tamborella returns to New Orleans after a ten-year absence to find the city of her birth changed, still a place of deep contradictions, a sensuous blend of religion, tradition, bonhomie, and decadence, but now caught in a web of fear caused by bad economic times, crime, and racial unrest. Burgess Monroe is the drug kingpin of the Convent Street Housing Project. He’s always known he would die young, and now he wants to use his wealth to do something for the poor people of the project where he grew up.

    Delzora Monroe, Burgess’s mother, works as a housekeeper in the mansion on Convent Street that Thea inherits from her aunt. Zora loves her son, but she knows that he has used his life to do evil, and she mistrusts his motives. She fears the repercussions when an attraction develops between Thea and Burgess. The violence that results from the death of the lone cop has the city in the grips of fear. On both sides of Convent Street, the rich and the poor, that violence is about to be played out… The violence that results from the death of the lone cop has the city in the grips of fear. On both sides of Convent Street, the rich and the poor, that violence is about to be played out…

    Praise for Glass House:

    “No one writes better or more accurately about New Orleans than Christine Wiltz. But Glass House is far more than a story about one city. It’s about the fear and rage and desperation that are destroying us as a people and a nation. The psychological complexity of Wiltz’s characters reminds me of James Baldwin and Ernest Gaines at their best. This is a tragic story about people, white and black, who have lost faith in themselves and have come to fear and loathe the world in which they must live. There are no villains here, only fearful and cornered people who flail at the darkness that surrounds them. New Orleans itself becomes a living, wounded presence as pervasive as the smell of Confederate jasmine or the reek of garbage cans behind the Convent project. I have never read a better depiction of the tormented American heart.”
    James Lee Burke, winner of two Edgar Awards for Best Novel

    “It is the painful and unflinching honesty with which Wiltz confronts the issue of crime and fear of crime that give her novel its strength and power….A novel that needs to be read on both sides of Convent Street.”
    New York Times Book Review

    “There’s romance in this book as well, [and] Wiltz’s expertly paced story sustains real entertainment while causing readers to search their hearts for their own hidden version of Convent Street.”
    San Francisco Chronicle

    “Christine Wiltz is a writer I believe. ‘As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide,” she recites, in an extraordinary quotation from Lincoln. It can be read as a prediction of the war between the races in which we are all, more and more, tragically and comically, engaged. Ms. Wiltz’s novel is, among other things, a report from the New Orleans battlefront in that war.”
    Vance Bourjaily