This installment of the Dave Robicheaux series starts in the Katrina/Rita damage. It feels like the author witnessed the area firsthand and you can feel his sense of tragedy and the level of destruction (he likely was there at the time). I have enjoyed all of James Lee Burke's books. This one is not one of the best (Black Cherry Blues, for me), but is still just really good reading for me. The "bad guys" are not as creepy as other books, but really the villain in this one was the weather and the destruction wrought by the hurricanes. The people were almost supporting cast. It was recommended to me to read these in time sequence, which I have mostly been doing. I will finish the whole series. I do not completely agree with some critics who say that Burke's books become formulaic and predictable. They are an extension of him. His command of the English language is remarkable and I will eventually read every book he has written!
Southern Lousiana cannot be depicted in a book by someone who visited there once. James Lee Burke provides one of the most satisfying glimpses into a unique culture, dark practices, strange and unpronouceable foods, stirring music, a world dripping with booze, twisted by crime, and inhabited by impoverished people who live in the clutches of a culture that has produced mardigras, boudin, etoufee, and zydeco.
Voodoo, drugs, sex, gambling, and names for common fish that no one has ever heard before; those things make up Southern Louisiana. But it's more than a culture that comprises races of such wonderous mix that music, food, jazz funerals, and the like are mere products of the creative minds of a myriad carefree souls.
I applaud Burke for realizing that the story of Lousians is not a linear telling of history and present practices, or a before and after Katrina comparison, or painting a bleak picture of a subordinated people. No say me, it is a song sung by sea birds, to the rhythm of falling rain and storm winds, to the beat of large fish jumping for bugs and falling back into the water, and listened to by the ears of the soul amid the aroma of fried fish, boiling crabs, crawfish, and blood sausage.
If you want to hear the song and experience one of the most descriptive and colorful literary journeys of your life, read not only this one, but all of Burke's novels. There are many people to hate, those that turn your stomach, those that you'd like to twist thir heads off, and those that you can't hate no matter how hard you try.
One more thing. Not many authors can crawl inside the heads of sychopaths, an alcaholic, a Viet Nam Vet that has seen too much, a killer, rapist, a torturor, an ex-cop, and an impulsive partner that seems out of control. Burke lets it all hang out with these personas; and he does it like a pro or lay psychiatrist.
You must read this book, let the language become an intregal part of the backdrop and get past it, be prepared to stay up late, and have great fun in the process.
”New Orleans was a song that went under the waves.” Above all else, this is a gripping tale of how Hurricanes Katrina and Rita tried to rip away the soul of New Orleans. This has to be my favorite in the Robicheaux series by far. It has depth, a paralyzing taste of reality and the best villain yet! Ronald Bledsoe will not be forgotten easily. Beyond Dave, Molly, Alafair and Clete, even the sub-plots with Bertrand Melancon and Otis Baylor carry their own pathos and intrigue. This is one of the very best!
With Dave Robicheaux telling the story you can actually feel , see and smell Louisiana . You see everything through his eyes and his heart . Clete Purcell is an open wound that never heals . The love between the two friends keep both their wounds closed. Molly and Alafair make you part of their family . Every character becomes alive . You see how they live and good or bad , you understand them through Dave , especially through his heart and integrity ..But as Clete would say , it's only rock and roll .
Books about the Deep South are some of my most favorite to read--the heat and humidity always seem to just seep right through the pages with their passion and longing and this book is no exception.
Dave Robicheaux is a Louisiana police detective trying to sort out a murder, a burglary and a variety of other crimes that are somehow connected. As Dave is trying to sort through the mess, evil comes into his own home and threatens his best friend, bail bondsman Clete, and adopted daughter. This book was the 17th in the series but I really didn't feel like I was missing anything.
The book is set during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While I have read many books about this disaster as a focus or even setting, none made the horror of the crime spree aftermath so very real. The description of the destruction of New Orleans is what struck me most strongly about this book. It seemed to read like a tragedy, almost an ode, to a grand, beautiful lady whose prime time had somehow been robbed of her before her time.
It was a police/procedural mystery that felt as if I were riding right along in Dave's cruiser. It's so realistic and gritty you can feel the sand and dirt swirling around in your brain. The mystery is full of sharp twists and turns and while sometimes these books are too technical for me, this one fit just right. And, just when you think you know who did it, you find out you didn't even know what 'it' is!
I always love to discover a new author and a new detective to fall for--Dave Robicheaux is now on my "Most Wanted List"--I suppose I've have to go back and read all 16 before and the others since! A small price to pay for a great read.