In The Neon Rain, Detective Robicheaux fishes a prostitute's corpse from a New Orleans bayou and finds that no one, not even the law, cares about a dead hooker.
More mayhem? Listen to more of James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux thrillers.
©1987 James Lee Burke; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
"With its fine local color and driving action, this novel is both chilling and first-rate entertainment." (Publishers Weekly)
"One of Burke's best." (New York Times Book Review)
Will Patton is as good as anyone at delivering the accents, drama, soul of JLB Dave Robicheaux novels. I would much rather listen to him, even the abridged novels, than read them. And I just have a small quibble that only native New Orleanians would be troubled by. Some of his pronunciations are just off, and it's a buzz killer. A few that come to mind are Carondelay -when it should be Carondelette. And he's forever riding the St. Charles streetcar down the Esplanahd - I've never heard it called that, though there is an Esplanayde Avenue just outside the French Quarter. I think there are a few others that fail to come to mind. Like I said, a minor quibble, but Will, please fix it!
Will Patton's narration was just superb, and Burke is a good wordsmith who paints evocative backdrops of Louisiana (25 years ago or so), and does maintain suspense along the way. The bad news is the story is preposterously unbelievable, and doesn't really go anywhere sufficient to compensate us for suspending our critical faculties along the way.
Dave Robicheaux is the narrator and protagonist. In this book, he is a thug-rouge cop who goes around trespassing, destroying property, beating and shooting people, but all, fantastically, with truly incredible impunity. He delivers himself carelessly into the hands of experienced, ruthless killers multiple times, but they never just "off" him. He is even kidnapped from his indefensible houseboat, but then goes right back there like nothing happened, to pass out drunk, take nice naps in his hammock on the boat, and otherwise makes himself a big, fat, juicy, helpless obnoxious target, all without fatal consequence.
Similarly, Robicheaux perpetrates one blatantly illegal, blatantly violent act after another as a police detective, and while a raging alcoholic suspended police detective, with only token resistance from the law. The author unboxes his entire erector set to construct a panoply of conspicuous deus ex machina to keep this floundering fool alive and out of jail, from one chapter to the next.
Amazingly, we are repeatedly told by Dave's Captain / supervisor what a great, great, great detective Robicheax is, but everything Robicheaux does or tells us about himself, absolutely belies this. In the entire book, he doesn't arrest anyone legally as a police officer, doesn't bring even one single solitary criminal to justice by the law. Awesome great cop. Right.
Since the author gives us a narrator-protagonist whose actions consist primarily of illegal, antisocial, belligerent, brutish behavior, it just doesn't wash when he slides out the soap box to weave moral and philosophical ramblings in, around, and among the protagonist's violent and lawless rampages; --speechifying about Viet Nam, politics, society, morality, ethics, etc. Similarly, the incongruous insertion into the plot line of occasional vignettes of Robicheaux's self-righteous indignation at the acts of other bad cops just don't square with the consistent lawlessness of the "hero".
Now as I have said, there is suspense along the way in this story, and I'm okay with dramatic license and even blatantly unbelievable story lines, if there's some similarly dramatic payoff at the end. I mean, we all enjoy the guilty pleasure of say, a good James Bond movie right? Unfortunately, Dave Robicheaux doesn't save the world. He doesn't uncover a big government conspiracy (though this story line seems to be loosely based on the Iran-Contra scandal), or bust open the syndicate. He doesn't redeem himself by bringing anyone to justice before the law. At the end of his long bumbling trail of dumb thuggery, he has simply run out of people and reasons to bludgeon, beat, shoot, and / or utterly fail to make even one righteous arrest or a single legal case. I guess we're supposed to be elated when he resigns from the force and rides off into the sunset with the obligatory gratuitous love interest. More like good riddance to a floundering bad actor / unhinged whack job, in whom we are given little reason to sympathize.
This was a disappointing audiobook.
I thought I would give this book and author a try based on the reviews. To be honest, I'm a bit tired of the detective genre and find that it over saturates the fiction market.
The book is well written and exceptionally delivered by Wil Patton but I could not get past the over-indulgent use of violence and the portrayal of one dimensional female character(s?). I found the overall flavor to be macho, a male revenge fantasy that left me feeling uncomfortable for no really good reason. If the violence and revenge had more of a point to the plot, and wasn't so ridiculous (I mean how could anyone, let alone a cop plausibly get away with all of the intimidation, murder, assault in the span of one book?) I wouldn't think twice about it. I was really looking forward to start another well reviewed series but I think I'll pass on this one, not sure if I want to spend another 10 or so hours feeling distressed about the state of male power dynamics.
This is my second book I've listened to by James Lee Burke. I found this book to be so violent for no real reason. It didn't do anything to support the story or make it more interesting. I almost gave up a couple of times, but stuck it out to give it a fair chance. as a result, this will be the last book of Mr. Burke's that I will purchase.
Just from this author
It was sometimes difficult to follow the characters
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
There is little reason to add one more voice to the ovation for JLB's Robicheaux books. This one is among my favorites, but Burke is so consistently superb that I think that choosing a favorite tells more about the reviewer than the book.
So I am adding my review primarily to express the opinion that BOTH Hammer and Patton are wonderful readers for these books. I had gotten used to Hammer, having heard several of his readings, and was entirely happy with Patton when I heard him for the first time in this one. They are different, of course, but both terrific. Robicheaux through two lenses, perhaps. This is just great stuff any way you look at it.
This is an incredible writer. The images are very powerful. But they were so violent. I was simply dismayed at their darkness. I knew that there would be difficult passages; it's about the murder of a prostitute after all. But I had no idea they would be so pervasive--including multiple violent flashbacks for many of the characters.
I don't think I'm a prude, but this book had images that are way darker than those I want to put into my mind.
There's a lot of description of the environment and the times, although to me it seemed a little like name dropping to name the exact restaurant or item on the menu, or to detail the ingredients in a po'boy sandwich. As if that would somehow make it more "real", when all it did for me was upset the flow and feeling. More of a cliche of Southern Noir - although I know Burke has many fans.
As for the detective story itself? Meh. Nothing too terribly interesting or exciting, though not terribly boring or obvious either. The narration, though, was very good, and I could picture Robicheaux nicely from Patton's performance.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
I've had this in my library a while, waiting for the right mood to strike me to listen to it . . . wow!!! What the heck was I waiting for??? This audio book, narrated by Will Patton, just about tops the list of books I've listened to . . . I do love this genre, cops, good versus evil, set in the south, good mystery to solve . . . but this one just has the right "magic" . . . I can almost see and taste New Orleans as I listen to Will Patton's voice . . . and it's so much more than the sleazy strip joints and bars . . . Now I HAVE to listen to more in the Dave Robicheaux series . . . so glad I didn't miss this one!
Will Patton delivers a great performance of superb writing. James Lee Burke is wonderful at describing New Orleans, Cajun culture, the attitudes and the ways of a cop in a very tough and corrupt town and state.
Dave Robicheaux is a fantastic protagonist and you cheer for him as he navigates this world of reprobates and hustlers. You'll want to read all the books!
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
I love Will Patton so I thought I would try this series since he does a lot of the narration. I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline and the plot kept me intrigued.
Dave Robicheaux is far from a perfect man or police man. This is necessary in a good story because you need a believeable hero for me to care about. If I want a Superman, I will rent Man of Steel.
The story starts out with Dave visiting a death row inmate who claims his innocence in the murder he is to die for, but warns Dave that there is a hit put out on him. From there the story gets wilder and has lots of action.
Will Patton does a wonderful job as the characters in this book,
I enjoyed the book and will continue on with this series.
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