©1989 James Lee Burke; (P)1993 Recorded Books, LLC.
I have been a very keen reader of James Lee Burke's books for quite a long time and have enjoyed them all.I recently listened to The Tin Roof Blowdown and thought that was excellent.This book is even better,Will Paton was a fine narrator in " Blowdown " but Mark Hammer is in a class of his own here. This is a fabulous audio book and I thoroughly recommend it to all.
Love having someone read me a story. Fires in the hearth, rain on the roof, sunny days and surf. Good friends, good food and J S Bach.
For me this is one fine piece of 'storytelling. I loved it. My first contact with James Lee Burke through Black Cherry Blues, will be the first of many more. I love having a story read to me, and the reader is reading to me. It became a personal experience.. I have yet to learn if it is J L Burke's style of writing. . Engaged from start to finish with Black Cherry Blues, I look forward to either listening to or reading much more from Mr Burke.
I know from whence I speak.
I have yet to find a Burke novel in the Dave Robicheaux series that I haven't liked, with the exception of Jolie Blon's Bounce narrated by Mark Hammer. In that case, it wasn't the novel I disliked but the narrator. Since then I have pretty well stuck with Will Patton's narrations which are always a good listen. However, a previous review of this book favorably rated Mark Hammer and I took a chance. Hammer did a superb job on this one. Because he did so well, I downloaded A Morning for Flamingos, also narrated by Hammer. I was very pleased with that narration also. So, if you have listened to all the Will Patton versions and want to expand your horizons, try this one out. You won't be disappointed.
This was the first Robicheaux novel I read, and I had a little trouble catching up with some of the back story. Burke spends too much time on some parts of it, and not enough on others, so that you have an incomplete idea of the emotional relationships with some characters.
Aside from that, it's a good listen. It is set mostly outside of south Louisiana, so Burke gets to write about a place and people he hasn't overdescribed, so there is a freshness to the story. The central mystery is engaging, and to me there seemed to be a wider range of character types than in some of his works.
Good serial detective novel, well written, not overly complex but not shallow, either.
Mark Hammer narrates this, and some reviews on this and other books really take him to task. I like him, with a few exceptions. He has the slow pacing of a southerner (even though he doesn't seem to be from the south) and doesn't rush through the book. Some of his readings are weaker than others, but this seems to be one of his stronger ones.
Good Robicheaux, but probably not the best one to introduce a newcomer to the series.
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
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
Burke's work fits together like a totally fine watch... Emphasis on the "fine". This is not just a good story. Not just a character study. Not just a virtually great southern novel. It is hauntingly beautiful. You will do yourself a great favor by letting pitch-perfect Mark Hammer reveal the voices that Burke imagined. Yup.... I reeeeeeely liked it.
Kudos to narrator, Mark Hammer, for taking a great book and making it better with his thoughtful pacing, accent, and inflection. He makes this book sing. And Mr. Burke is on top of his form. His capacity to use the natural environment as an omnipresent counterpoint to an intriguing plot stands out. Burke's dialogue is masterful even as it serves to reveal characters of substance. Readers of this genre will not go wrong with this one.The quality of the writing sets a high bar for his contemporaries....thoroughly enjoyed it.
James Lee Burke weaves a story that is great for the ears. I really enjoy his style and vocabulary. It is like listening to a cajun Faulkner. His story lines may not be for everyone but he has a knack at painting pictures in your mind with his words. The setting is from Dave's earlier life.
JLB is in fine form in this book.
The story is a little more deliberate with fewer twists and moving pieces than a lot of JLB stories. Likewise, a lot of time is spent inside Robichaux's head.
For JLB fans, this one is a must.
Mark Hammer is his usual slow slurring self in narration, but I have become used to him (and I think he has even grown on me a bit).
I have a spotted history with James Lee Burke. I started listening to this series purely because Will Patton read them. I ended up all over the place in Dave Robicheaux's life. I loved each of those books, really enjoyed them. I chose this book because I thought it would be fun to start from the beginning. Now I don't know if I'll go on to book two. It was a real struggle to get through this book, it felt like a chore instead of a joy. The most awful part of the book was whenever the narrator was speaking for a Cajun person or Dave's foster daughter. When Dave drove to Montana I was grateful that at least his Cajun staff wouldn't have speaking parts any longer.
I'll probably try book two when it's been long enough that I forget how much I struggled through this one. Hopefully Burke's writing and Hammer's narration improve quickly.
"Atmospheric, gripping, well paced"
James Lee Burke was recommended to me recently as the 'most brilliant rendering of the deep south USA'. Actually, this did not make me rush to try his work because it made me assume, incorrectly, that crime novels of this location must necessarily be about the bleak past of the southern states. In fact, history and politics are worn lightly in this novel, in which the characters have their own strong morality, carefully drawn characters, specific histories and are deeply engaging. I cared deeply about Dave, Batista and everyone in their quasi family by the close of the novel, and the plot was outstanding: unpredictable, convincing and sustained. To start with, I found Hammer's very slow reading pace a struggle, but once this became the sounds of the scenery, the bayou, the boats, then it became very rhythmic and natural. Hammer's pace actually changed a lot, particularly at moments of high tension or action, but if you are a fan of Mankell or Nesbo's atmospheric north, then give Burke's south, and Hammer's accents, a try.
I tend not to write reviews about mediocre works - saving them for the books I really loved, or really cannot leave behind. I will definitely be listening now to the rest of the Robichaux series. I NEED to know what happens next in their lives...
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