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MOVIE REVIEW A Murder of Crows

Rating **

A twisty little mystery that threads its way through New Orleans and Key West, A Murder of Crows, written and directed by Rowdy Harrington, gives us tantalizing glimpses into the homes and lives of the filthy rich.

Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Lawson Russell, an Establishment lawyer who steals a dead man's manuscript, then publishes it under his own name. The murder mystery brings Russell fame and fortune beyond belief. But his luck spirals quickly downward when the book turns out to be a record of murders actually committed by the true author, and Russell gets accused of the crimes. Tom Berenger as the Velcro detective Clifford Dubose, chases Russell up and down tall, wrought-iron fences and skinny alleys behind Georgian mansions in New Orleans, before he is killed. Russell is eventually tried and found innocent.

The movie opens with lavish New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations, but soon sends Russell to Key West to try his hand at writing a book after he is disbarred. He stays in his adorable, vine-choked cottage an ideal place for an aspiring writer to hole up. Or he takes people fishing on his modest motorboat. While the movie does not do Key West justice, it does jog the memory with scenes from the causeway, the public marina and Sloppy Joe's.

Getting his stolen manuscript published takes Russell back to New Orleans, where we travel with him on streetcars, wander around parks and follow him into some grand mansions. All have winding staircases, some with lacy iron banisters, others with elegant wooden ones. Towering walls sport sherbet colors banana, strawberry, lime. Oversized mahogany furniture gleams pompously on Persian rugs, and wide wooden shutters keep the heat of the day outside where it belongs.

While the movie is mediocre, overall, it does have its clever and arty moments. It's a pleasant two hours of light entertainment.

This 1999 crime drama is now on video.

For more information, visit us.imdb.com/Title?0133985