Dave Robicheaux is back, in a gorgeously written, visceral thriller by James Lee Burke, “the heavy weight champ, a great American novelist whose work, taken individually or as a whole, is unsurpassed” (Michael Connelly).
Creole Belle begins where the last book in the Dave Robicheaux series, The Glass Rainbow, ended. Dave is in a recovery unit in New Orleans, where a Creole girl named Tee Jolie Melton visits him and leaves him an iPod with the country blues song "Creole Belle" on it. Then she disappears. Dave becomes obsessed with the song and the memory of Tee Jolie and goes in search of her sister, who later turns up inside a block of ice floating in the Gulf. Meanwhile, there has been an oil well blowout on the Gulf, threatening the cherished environs of the bayous.
Creole Belle is James Lee Burke at his very best, with beloved series hero Dave Robicheaux leading the charge against the destruction of both the land and the people he has sworn to protect.
©2012 James Lee Burke (P)2012 Simon & Schuster
“This tale plays out much like The Glass Rainbow—intimations of mortality; melancholic musing on the pillaging of once-Edenic South Louisiana; cathartic, guns-blazing climax—but, as always, Burke brings something new to the table...Dave and Clete may still be unbowed, but they are certainly broken—and all the more interesting for it.” (Booklist)
“Another stunner from a modern master.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Great news for readers who feared that Burke had left Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Robicheaux dying at the end of The Glass Rainbow (2010); Dave and his old friend Clete Purcel are back for an even more heaven-storming round of homicide, New Orleans–style.... A darkly magnificent treat for Dave’s legion of admirers.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Say something about yourself!
Two tops in their fields bring their A-game to this production and the result of this perfect union is Creole Belle. Burke is so highly regarded in the literary world that any praise seems redundant and almost cliche; if you've read his works, you know this already. One critic said that "nobody can touch Burke in lyrical expression..." Will Patton, with his smart interpretation skills, is one of the best narrators in the business. With a voice rich in texture and hypnotic appeal, he enhances everything I've heard him read. The two of them together are a match made in audible heaven. I could listen to this collaboration and be lost in words and voice - almost forget to hear the story if it wasn't so explosive.
I'm assuming that readers of this 19th in the Robicheaux series know the basics. This book picks up at The Glass Rainbow's conclusion, and begins a new adventure for the well-seasoned team of Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel. A darker and more complex plot than previous books, involving drug runners, human trafficking, art forgery, Nazi war criminals, the Gulf oil *spill,* and as always...a cast of characters as wonderful as their names, and the ruination of Robicheaux's beloved Louisiana wetlands. (With some fascinating, and alarming, insights in to oil rigs - Burke himself having worked on oil rigs in the gulf). Burke has stated that Dave and Clete are "actually one character; they are opposite sides of the same coin," and this time he focuses more sharply on Clete, revealing the differences, and the similarities, in this duo. He also writes more about the forces that shaped the characters in this novel. Creole Belle is comfortably familiar, but not a re-telling of the same story, and Burke somehow manages to add new dimensionality to this already dynamic team with each book.
[* an aside for anyone that might be thinking 19th?! Why jump in now?: Like many book-series, these books can be picked up at any point and enjoyed. Burke often includes backstories; some avid followers might accuse him of repeating portions of previous books, but this practice makes it possible for each novel to be read as its own story. It's more a *pleasurable advantage* to grow-up with the characters, than a *necessity*. I have read several, but not all of the previous 19 novels.]
Some readers say that Burke tends to be too poetic or reflective, that he ruminates and reminisces...my opinion (call me antiquarian)...I love listening to anything he has to say! Burke's poetic style and beautiful atmospheric writing is magical and mesmerizing to me. Just listening to Will Patton read James Lee Burke - I am captivated each time. Highly recommend.
63 y/o psychologist with two sons, living in SF Bay Area. I absolutely love all the feedback I've been getting for my reviews. It's very gratifying. Thanks to all of you.
James Lee Burke created Dave Robicheaux 25 years ago, in The Neon Rain, in 1987. Burke is a brilliant writer. His ability to describe the place of his birth, Southern Louisiana, is unparalleled. New Orleans and Iberia Parish are places that you want to visit, because Mr. Burke has captured them so vividly. Likewise, Dave Robicheaux is such a vivid creation that you almost believe he is flesh and blood. Dave and his best friend, Clete Purcel, have suffered in their lives, the rages of alcoholism and Viet Nam, among other curses. Dave has married twice and has adopted Alafair, in a rescue scene so extraordinary that I remember it clearly, almost a decade later. Alafair Burke is now a novelist herself, in the real world. These books are full of violence and thoughtfulness, scholarly reasoning and deep moral convictions. In this book the bad guys are horrendous, a family named Duprix, wealthy and sinister, an incestuous grandfather at the top, a man who was also a highly-placed Nazi at one of the death camps. The reading is not for the faint of heart or stomach, but it is brilliant for all of that. Will Patton is perfect for these books. His voices are of extraordinary range and expressiveness. Male or female, his characters speak with astonishingly human voices and a range of emotions that rival those of the best narrators. I began reading Dave Robicheaux books 25 years ago, and I hope to keep reading them for a long time. James Lee Burke has lost none of his unique talent, and it is a pleasure for me to be able to recommend his work to you. It is thrilling.
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
JLB is one of my very favorite authors. This book gives us a bit of "more of the same" however, one may consider.... when is too much of something you love a bad thing? Well maybe when it becomes predictable and when one can get a whiff of staleness. I truly can't say this happens throughout this book, but I confess during most of part one, I was asking myself these questions.
So to the good parts..... great scary bad guys....including one guy that has such a dirty past, it will make your skin crawl. And as always the reader/listener gets to enjoy the push/pull relationship between Dave and Clete. Clete has a long lost family member appear in this book and her part makes for some interesting happenings.
Then there is Alafair, in this story she plays an interesting role. I couldn't quite figure out why as an adult she is at home living with her parents. And at times her involvement in the intrigue with the bad guys really doesn't make sense.
Oh and of course Will Patton is always perfect narrating these books for JLB.
So for me it was a wee bit of a mix. But as the story progressed, I as always, couldn't help myself, I just fell in love with this book.
This was without a doubt one of the best Dave R. novels so far. It held you and gave you a graphic image of Southern Louisiana and the human condition, not to mention the hurt man visits on man. I love all of Mr. Burke's books and was not disappointed.
I have read all of James Lee Burke books. I have never done a review like this before. I am only 1/3 of the way through this book. It is unbelievable. This is one of those few books where I don't really care how it ends, the story is so rich, vivid and compelling it doesn't matter. Clete Purcell is back and better than ever. Will Patton shines. Do yourself a favor, stop listening to whatever you are listening to and get this book. It is a 3 part book, and although I am only 1/3 of the way through, I am going to be thoroughly depressed when it ends.
No matter where you go, there you are.
I have read every word the man has published (that I was able to find) and this one really got to me. When one reads Burke, the plot is nearly superfluous as he paints flawless dioramas of life, its beauty, its evil, its life-giving and its life-taking and many of the nuanced, indelible connections twix the two.
I used to think his ending were weak. But now I understand there are no 'endings', just pauses where one can reflect or suffer.
His brief description of withdrawal from drug/alcohol addiction was crystalline in its accuracy. My soul ached as I read it.
One of the few authors where it absolutely does not matter where in his bibliography you start. There are simply pauses in between.
Yes! Thanks to Will Patton. He makes the story live.
Yes. Love the characters. Like seeing old friends.
He is the only one that should ever be allowed to preform this series.
Mr. Burke can't write this series as fast as I would listen to them.
Absolutely! Thanks to Will Patton!
It is difficult to determine a favorite character because James Lee Burke creates characters like Charles Dickens did years ago. They are alive; they are vivid; they are complex; they are real people with their heroic abilities and lingering weaknesses. They fight injustice; they take on corrupt corporations, government and evil people and they also fight their own demons. That said, Dave Robicheaux is one of my favorite characters in all literature. And in the J L Burke series, dear old lovable Cletis is not far behind.
Most moments in a James Lee Burke novel are moving and I consider "Creole Belle" as one of his best. This novel is filled with memorable and deeply moving scenes; Clete's revelation to Gretchen particularly moved me.
This is something I've never done before. I finished "Creole Belle" and then went immediately back to the beginning and I'm now re-listening to the story. James Lee Burke takes on the BP oil spill off the Gulf coast, Nazi war criminals, systemic racism, human torture, complacent law officers and other manifestations of the "dark clouds" of humanity. However, amid this battle waged primarily by Dave and his loyal and dangerous friend, Clete, there is humor (I thought this was J L Burke's most humorous work), there is love between fathers and daughters, husband and wife, friends, colleagues - and all clothed in the author's beautiful poetic language.
I believe many books and stories are read and forgotten. "Creole Belle" will stay with you as long as you live.
And long live James Lee Burke! Long live Will Patton!
I must qualify my review by disclosing that I am a huge James Lee Burke fan - he's one of my favorite authors of all time. Likewise, I love the Dave Robicheaux series.
This book is heavy on Clete, meaning a large chunk of the story deals with Clete Purcell and a new character, who turns out may be his daughter. While there are some issues with this new "daughter" character, to the extent she detracts from the story, the big role Clete plays in this story is fun. The dialogue throughout is TERRIFIC!
As other reviewers have mentioned, there is a lot to this story, with several relevant story lines throughout. While a lot of these stories are in fact formulaic with JLB, there are a few twists in this one that I enjoyed.
Likewise, I am not typically a fan of authors going overboard on describing the aesthetics in their scenes, but JLB is by far the best I have ever read in this area. He is the master, and it amazes me every time how much I love it when he does it.
As usual, Will Patton is fabulous. He is one of the best in the business and JLB writing is simply made for Will Patton.
Highly Recommended, if you haven't got it - GET IT!!
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
This is my first James Lee Burke book and the first one I've listened to in this series. It's a little odd to start listening to a series when it's already 19 books long, but I did it anyway. And, I'm really glad I did.
This review is really for people who are wondering if they should listen to this book without the background of the others. Short answer: YES! I found it a little hard to keep names straight in the beginning, so had to listen to the first part again. This is not a hardship. It's more time spent listening to Will Patton and that's a great thing. It's a little bit like walking into a room where there are a bunch of old friends already talking. You have to listen a while before you know who's who.
This is a beautifully written book with great, fleshed-out characters. The commentary about Louisiana and its culture is a bonus. It feels SO authentic. I'm a little jealous of the people who have known about Burke from the start. I'm very glad I know about him now.
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