Senator “Poker John” Herbert of Louisiana will probably be the next President of the United States—unless a rumor about a secret in his past is exposed. It’s a secret even he doesn’t know about. Max Maxwell is sent to New Orleans to determine if the secret is true. Did Herbert father a mixed race child in his home state? If he did, does the child know who the father is and what impact can it have on the upcoming election? The search for the answers takes Max from Bourbon Street, the cane fields, and the bayous to a Saint John’s Eve Voodoo celebration in his quest to find out the truth. Along the way, he sees what the government will do to destroy one of its own and how far it will go to protect that same person. One night of seeing That Old Black Magic in action is enough to last Max for a lifetime…if he has a lifetime left.

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In That Old Black Magic by Paul Sinor, private investigator Max Maxwell is asked by his former army intelligence boss and now current client, Bill Hart, to find a woman and her daughter in New Orleans who may, or may not, play a big part in the upcoming presidential election. Max won’t know until he finds them. But what Max and Bill don’t know is that the opposition is after them too, and they aren’t just looking for information. If Max isn’t careful, he may become collateral damage in a race for the Oval Office…

Well written, fast paced, and full of alarming surprises, this one will keep you glued to your chair all the way through. Very well done.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: That Old Black Magic by Paul Sinor is the fourth book in is Max Maxwell series. Max is a private detective, and former army intelligence officer, from the Pacific Northwest. He often does work for his old army boss, Bill Hart, undertaking secret government missions as a civilian contractor. These missions are often dangerous and his current one is no exception. Max has been dispatched by Bill to New Orleans to find a mother and daughter who, it is rumored, could destroy a certain senator’s run for the White House. Max is just supposed to find the woman and learn if her daughter is really the bi-racial child of the candidate. But others are looking for her too, and they don’t play by the rules, willing to eliminate not only the woman and her daughter, but anyone else who gets in their way, including Max.

Written in Sinor’s unique and often humorous voice, That Old Black Magic is intense, fast pace, and hard to put down. A worthy addition to the series.


Even from the air and in the heavy downpour that preceded the incoming hurricane, it did not look like what it was built to be. In the early 1960s, the Catholic seminary was converted to a prison after being taken over by the new regime. The heavy rain, so thick at times it looked as if the animals who were still above ground were gathering in groups of two and looking for a large boat, fell without letup.

The grounds inside the walls were knee deep in dirty brown, debris-filled water. It came into the buildings, flooding everything without regard to what or who it was. Houses in the vicinity had been boarded up as best as could be, or simply abandoned, the residents taking a chance that they could find shelter elsewhere and that some remnants of their home would be left, if and when they returned.

Wind howled through the trees, tearing branches off at random. Coconuts, mangos, papayas, and other fruit littered the ground as they were hurled from the trees.

Only one sound made itself heard above the noise of the wind and rain. It was the unmistakable sound of metal scraping against metal as heavy barred doors were slid down tracks to open cells in the Villa Marista Prison on the outskirts of Havana, Cuba.

Known by the locals as The Villa and by the inmates as the Villa de Morte or Villa of Death, it was where prisoners deemed too dangerous to be housed in other locations—murderers, traitors to the government, political prisoners, and a select few that did not fall into any other category—were sent. Most who entered never exited alive.

The sound of the door sliding to open a cell filled the western leg of the three-sided prison. The guards were coming. All the prisoners knew it and they knew it was not something they relished, however, this time it was not for them. They were coming for Prisoner-Three-Six-Eight, and they were going to stop the noise again.

No one in Villa Marista had a name. They were known only by their number. There was no sequence to the numbering. Each was assigned by the warden, a Cuban who had been trained by the Russian KGB during the early days of the revolution. Over the years, he had perfected his skills to that of an expert. Within days, or hours in some cases, he could get a man to confess to starting World War Two, or the killing of Julius Caesar if he wanted. Three-Six-Eight was housed next to Prisoner-Seven-Five-Five on one side and Ninety-Nine on the other.

“Shut up. Do you want them to come to see you again?” Ninety-Nine, whispered through the bars loud enough for Three-Six-Eight to hear.

“Does it matter? They will come anyway. You know it and so do I.” He spoke back loud enough for others to hear, even as the wind blew through open windows. He began to sing again. “God bless America—land that I—”

The door to his cell was slid back so hard it almost broke free from the track on the bottom that held it in place. Two guards in full military uniform stood in the open doorway.

One spoke to him in broken English. “You cannot sing that. We can punish you very badly for it.”

To emphasize he was serious, prisoners on both sides of his cell heard the sound of flesh on flesh as the prisoner was knocked across the room and the door slid shut.

All was quiet for almost an hour then he began again. “My country tis of thee, sweet land—” They must have been waiting outside the cell block doors because he hardly got half a sentence out before the guards were back in his cell.

“We can kill you for this. Nobody cares who you are or even that you are here. You belong to us. You cannot talk and you cannot sing without permission. You have been told that. It is a rule you must follow.” Once again, the prisoners heard the sounds of a beating taking place in the cell.

The wind died some as the eye of the hurricane passed over the island and then picked up force again at the other side of the eyewall passed. It was almost daylight when the wind ceased to that of a tropical storm and the prisoners realized they were not going to be blown away or drowned in their cells.

As the first rays of sunlight broke through the clouds and the bars over the windows of the Villa de Morte, a familiar, though very weak voice was heard, singing about Jeremiah the Bullfrog.

© 2019 by Paul Sinor