Attorney and author of legal thrillers.
I am a huge fan of James Lee Burke and have read a number of his books. However, I had missed Black Cherry Blues. I listened to it on a long road trip and realized again that Burke is unparalleled in his ability to paint a scene and draw a reader into the story.
Burke's stories always keep me wondering. I know each character will play a part in the overall sense of the book, but I never know for sure how it will play out until the very end. In this book, I wondered most about Dixie Lee Pugh, a marvelous character on many levels.
Hammer captured the essence of Dave Robicheaux for me. Understated, yet thoughtful and plagued by the demons of his past.
Yes. Although the length of it made it better listened to a few segments at a time. I actually read the last chapter or two on my Kindle, but later went back and listened to them to get the full effect of the narration.
But I loved the author’s phrases and the art of his writing.
Plot: the main guy Dave is framed for a crime. He does not do strong or smart things to save himself. I was worried and feeling down during most of the book. If the hero is going to be framed, then I want a hero I can root for, feel hope for, and enjoy watching him give it to the bad guys. But this was not. However, I know many readers like this type of fiction. For me at least the ending was happy, and I really enjoyed the unique phrases and rich descriptions.
Dave is a flawed hero. He is smart, but he does reckless and careless things which get him into trouble. He also did a stupid thing which almost got him killed. And he admitted to himself how stupid it was. He wasn’t thinking. I have moments like that. Dave is a former cop, a former alcoholic going to AA meetings. He grieves for his wife who was murdered a year ago. Dave has several sensitive and loving conversations with his dead wife. These are dreams, daydreams, or his imagination. They add a nice touch, seeing his relationship with his wife’s ghost.
The group of characters are intriguing, interesting, and wonderfully developed - bad guys and good guys. Most of the good guys are flawed. I liked that.
I loved the little girl’s dialogue and her questions. I loved Dave’s relationship with her.
The author used many phrases, metaphors, and similes. Many I had not heard before. Some I just liked the way he used them. They surprised and delighted me. Some examples.
Cars cross the bridge and “thump onto the road”
About a rhythm and blues singer, someone must have “rubbed a lot of pain into him” when he was young
“When the mosquitos started to boil out of the shadows.”
“Those who began each day with a nervous breakdown, people who held onto the sides of the planet with suction cups”
Girl with a swimsuit “that was tight as tin on her body”
(What does that mean? I don’t know but I liked it.)
This book won the EDGAR AWARD for best novel in 1990.
THE AUTHOR LIVES IN THE PLACES HE WRITES ABOUT.
The two main locations in this story are Louisiana and Montana. The author has homes in both of those places. I’m sure that helps his descriptions be so rich and lush. I wonder about authors who write about places they’ve never visited but instead rely on online research.
NARRATOR & SOUND EQUIPMENT PROBLEM:
Mark Hammer was excellent with his timing and interpretations. His southern accent was comfortable to listen to. I loved the way he spoke for the little girl. He gave her an attitude that touched my heart. I loved the way she said the word Dave - in such a gentle and caring way.
I think there was a problem with the sound equipment. It picked up the narrator’s breathing making it sound as if he had trouble breathing. His breaths were noisy and distracting.
Genre: mystery suspense
I've listened to three of Will Patton's readings of James Lee Burke's books and have marveled at Mr. Patton's characterizations and Louisiana accents. By comparison, Mark Hammer sounds as if all his characters are from east Tennessee, have some nasel passage infection and are virtually indistinguishable. I especially missed Mr. Patton's voice for Clete Purcel in this reading of Black Cherry Blues. I wish Will Patton would read all of Burke's books in the unabridged form.
What a great writer and fantastic narrator! Listening, I am pulled in as if it is occurring around me. The subject matter can be depressing, but there is something redeeming in these stories. I am now listening in order and I am just blown away at how great they are!
... Mark Hammer's narration doesn't hold a candle to that of Will Patton. Patton captures the lyrical quality of Burke's prose -- truly takes me to Louisiana (or, in this case, Montana).
Retired Marine combat officer now enjoying life in Southwestern Wisconsin. With my wife, Crystal, we own and operate a portrait studio, True Lives Studio, in Bloomington, WI
Listening to James Lee Burke is pure hit you in the face poetry. Trying to get through the narration is like doing so through a rock tumbler.
The story moves, sags and just downright bogs down.
Please give us Will Patton
I started James Burke on audio in the middle of the series and just went back to the beginnings. He is a top quality writer but I miss Will Patton.
Some of his words are pure gold. The disadvantage of listening to a book is that you cannot highlight or bookmark a special few words. Burke's point of view becomes solid in this book and what he wants to say about life, through Dave Robicheaux's errors in judgment and liaisons with the spirit world, becomes apparent, at least for now.
This is not a plot-driven book; it is character-driven. Cletus makes a welcome return (I always picture him as Gary Busey). The plot is fairly mundane, and portrays Dave getting involved with some dangerous people as a consequence of helping an old friend. Most of the action takes place in Montana, and JLB establishes the ambiance in a manner that is similar to his lyrical descriptions of Louisiana, yet not as successful. The outcome is really never in doubt; it is the manner in which it will be reached that is the question, and the mythic/magical elements (of which I am very fond) do play a role here.
I have already read ALL of the Dave Robicheaux books, but not in order, so I am starting over, and enjoying them as audiobooks, except for Heaven's Prisoners, which is not available as an unabridged audio book. I have to say that I am not as fond of Mark Hammer's narration as I am of Will Patton's. In fact, I almost gave up on this book in the first few chapters, but I eventually got used to his voice. He does an abysmal job with Alafair and Batiste, and when Dave is having a conversation with Cleet, it is difficult to tell them apart. He gives everyone a Southern/Texas accent for some strange reason. I have to stop thinking of this as a performance and just imagine that Mark Hammer is reading to me, and doing the best he can. Unfortunately, it's just not very good.
A well narrated story which is part of the Robicheaux series. There are some breaks in the recording where it is a bit obvious when one recording session ended and another began but that is a very minor issue. All in all a great audiobook. Well worth a credit.