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Cajun 12-Step

An old-fashioned detective story. A newfangled detective.

As the wicked Mrs. Bubba, Teri Hatcher is sexier and craftier than she ever appears to be on TV's Lois and Clark. (She's naked the first time the audience gets a glimpse of her, and she's scarcely any less alluring when totally clothed.) But then again, Kelly Lynch is no slouch herself when it comes to injecting sex appeal into the cliched role of the hero's long-suffering wife. Mary Stewart Masterson also figures into the plot as Robin, a hard-drinking stripper who comes under Robicheaux's protective wing. It's a relatively small role, but Masterson mines it for every nugget of bawdy humor and affecting pathos.

Heaven's Prisoners was filmed on location in and around New Orleans. And while one might quibble about the accents employed by some of the actors -- to put it charitably, Hatcher is not altogether convincing as a Cajun -- the movie is dead-on accurate when it comes to conveying the sultriness of a Louisiana summer. In more than one scene, Baldwin's shirt appears to be freshly pressed one moment, drenched with sweat the next. It's a small detail, but one that indicates the movie's ambition to tell an old-fashioned, maybe even overly familiar, detective story with realistic detail as well as heartfelt emotion.

Heaven's Prisoners. Directed by Phil Joanou. With Alec Baldwin, Eric Roberts and Teri Hatcher.Rated R. 132 minutes.

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