Louis Kincaid

Created by P. J. Parrish
Joint pseudonym of Kristy and Kelly Montee

At first I was wondering why on earth the PWA nominated Paint It Black, featuring P.J. Parrish’s 1980’s series character, LOUIS KINCAID, for a Shamus. The Louis Kincaid I knew was a transplanted Detroit cop who journeyed back home to Black Pool, Mississippi to tend to his dying mother and ending up joining the small, all-white police force (Louis’ mother was black, his dad was white) in his debut, the racially-charged but overblown and deriviative Dark of the Moon (1999). In other words, a cop — not a private eye.

But maybe I did myself a disservice by not following the series more closely, after being so disappointed with first book. It seems Louis has evolved and changed, from book to book and, if a Shamus nomination (or two) (or three) is any indication of quality, the writing has also improved tremendously. And Louis does eventually become a private eye of sorts later in the series.

In Dark of the Moon, Louis had to deal with the racism of his fellow police officers and citizens, while trying to uncover the mystery of the recently- discovered corpse of a young black man lynched 20 years earlier. By its sequel, Dead of Winter (2001), Louis was headed north to Michigan, seeking refuge from the nastiness at Black Pool, where he joined another small police force in the seemingly peaceful resort town of Loon Lake, only to discover a psychopath serial killer who left playing cards beside the corpse of each of his victims.

In the Shamus-nominated Paint it Black (2002), Louis is off to Sereno Key in southwest Florida. Having recently left his third police force in as many books, he’s unemployed and looking for work. He’s hired by a woman whose husband was found beaten to death, a victim of a vicious serial killer who murders black men in a particularly violent, ritualistic fashion.

Which brings us to Thicker than Water, which sees Louis actually staying in place for more than one book. He’s now settled in on Captiva Island, off Florida’s Gulf Coast, and working as a — so far — unlicensed private eye. Not that his cases seem any less horrific — he’s hired to clear a man accused of raping and murdering a little girl.

And in the fifth book, Island of Bones (2004) and Louis is actually going to be in the same state for two consecutive novels! WHOA!!! What are the odds? Even better, he’s now officially a private eye, with a license and everything! It’s the late 1980s, and Louis is living in rundown seaside cottage, just looking for some peace. at least until a hurricane hits, and washes up assorted bodies and problems for our hero.

And so it goes. Since then Louis has appeared in a half dozen or more novels, racking up regular Shamus nominations and even a couple of wins, for An Unquiet Grave (2006) and Heart of Ice (2013). Although that may stop — in The Damage Done (2018), Louis is back in blue, now a member of an elite Michigan homicide unit.

Author P.J. Parrish is actually the pen name of sisters, Kristy and Kelly Montee.


  • Thicker Than Water is the kind of book that grabs you and won’t let go. I absolutely loved it. You’re going to be hearing a lot more about PJ Parrish, because nobody’s writing better private eye fiction anywhere.”
    — Steve Hamilton
  • Island of Bones is a well-researched and well-wrought novel that deserves one’s thorough attention. Especially worth watching is the interaction between Kincaid and Landeta; the beaten-down but still reflective cop brings out both the best and the worst in Kincaid, who can be impulsive and hotheaded in equal measure. These two men butt heads, but they also share a common sense of loss and a need to find out all the answers. Their partnering against a backdrop of fast-paced action, decades of lies and the untamed coastal islands of Florida makes Bones a deeply satisfying reading experience.”
    — Jennifer Jordan, The Rap Sheet



  • “Claw Back” (January 2013, digitalKindle it!
    Serves as a prequel to Hearts of Ice.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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