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Leigh Buckley Fountain
5.0 out of 5 starsDAMN satisfying entry in an exciting and visceral series.
Reviewed in the United States on November 26, 2016
A beautiful melding of 3 different era's, but never the way you think. Burke's writing is incendiary in that literally Dave Robicheaux can and will explode with decisive force. He is morally driven, an ex NOPD lieutenant, recovering alcoholic and Nam vet who snaps into violence when he believes it will make the point effectively. Otherwise, he is a silver tongued devil at times, with pithy dry with, as he's seen it sll. I believe it's the odd and unique plot that made the 2009 film so effective. I watched it immediately after, and they did their job. Just enough of Burke's actual amazing dialogue is there, but, as screenplays do, the character development is cut to the bone. It was done skillfully. I guess if you're up for checking out Burke's work, this is as good a start as any, though it is the 6th book. It illustrates his nobility of fate fairly well, and that is certainly the core of the 20 book series. Read it first, then enjoy the he'll out of a rarely faithful and we'll book to film adsptation.
4.0 out of 5 starsAnother brilliant example of Burke's masterful prose style
Reviewed in the United States on February 5, 2016
James Lee Burke is one of the finest writers producing crime fiction anywhere in the world today. His prose sings. The scenes he sets trigger all five senses. His plots are deliciously complex and challenging. And, more important still, he creates characters that are difficult to forget.
The protagonist of Burke’s twenty-book series of detective novels, Dave Robicheaux, is a Cajun who is a Vietnam combat vet, a fourteen-year veteran of the New Orleans Police Department, and an on-again, off-again deputy in the New Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Department, located west of New Orleans. Robicheaux’s first wife was brutally murdered by drug dealers. He has since married his high school sweetheart, Bootsie. Together, they are raising now ten-year-old Alafair, a delightfully lively Central American girl whom he rescued and adopted several years ago when the plane carrying her and her mother to the United States went down in the Gulf. The three live in an old house on the bayou, steps away from the bait-and-sandwich shop and boat rental that Robicheaux operates with his partner, Batist, a powerful Black man whose intelligence is belied by his mangled syntax. Robicheaux is fifty-three years old in the sixth book in Burke’s series, In the Electric Mist With Confederate Dead.
Enter Hollywood and the Southern mob
An offshoot of the Mafia has operated for decades in New Orleans and features prominently in many of Burke’s novels. A central character in In the Electric Mist is Julie Balboni, a six-and-a-half-foot-tall New Iberia-born gangster who returns with a retinue of thugs when he invests in a Hollywood film production on location outside town. Unsurprisingly, Balboni’s investment is a move to launder the profits from his operations in the drug trade.
The film stars an alcoholic leading man, Elrod Sykes, who also takes a place at center stage in the novel. The film’s director, Mikey Goldman, is a volatile, foul-mouthed bully. All these characters, and others, are brilliantly drawn. They come to life on the page.
The ensuing collision of these characters is inevitable, but it’s a genuine pleasure to read about it. The story is suspenseful to the end.
About the author
James Lee Burke is a Grand Master Award winner from the Mystery Writers of America. He has written twenty books in the Dave Robicheaux series, fifteen other novels, and two collections of short stories.
The only downside of this great, quickly moving and deep read is it’s cumbersome title. However, as the title hints, this book takes an ordinary earthly place with dirt and grit and too-human characters and [somehow] seamlessly marries it with the supernatural. As you read along you step from one plane to the next and never even realize you left. Profound characters, very well developed, and well placed. You easily and comfortably become a player and move along with the story. Hard to put down but when you do you don’t feel a bit fatigued. AND it’s written in the first person! This book shouldn’t be the book it is but he pulls it off with charm and grace. Read it...You won’t be sorry.
5.0 out of 5 starsJames Lee Burke at his Best! His Dave Robicheaux Stories are Awesome!
Reviewed in the United States on July 21, 2013
A couple of months ago a couple of my cyber friends introduced me to the Dave Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke's, a prolific author who I had never heard of.
Folks, let me just say this. If you like crime novels, action-packed believable detective thrillers, haunting mystery novels or just plain interesting novels by someone who has the ability to make to see, smell, taste, hear, feel the atmosphere and transport you into mesmerizing story lines, don't miss reading this 19 book series. I read and review books from a plethora of talented authors; however, none come near the talent of James Lee Burke--Nada! Nobody! This guy can flat out jerk you into the ride of your life lost in time and space ripping through pages of intriguing characters and fantastic scenes in record time and leaving you craving for another treat in this series.
"In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead" is my sixth in this series since June 15, 2013, reading them in between books I have made a commitment to read and review. This one adds another perspective, introducing an intriguing new character in the Robicheaux experience--the ghost of Confederate General John Bell Hood and his men fighting civil war battles while providing clues that brings a new vector to Robicheaux, the character and delicious gossamery entertainment to the reader.
In this episode, Dave "Streak" Robicheaux (pronounced ROW-BUH-SHOW) the divorced, widowed alcoholic who has been on the wagon for years now married to Bootsie, a flawed character herself whose cancer is in remission. Dave's adopted daughter, Alifair who he rescued from the underwater shell of a crashed airplane in a previous episode is a growing child who, when not playing with her pet 3-legged raccoon, Tripod, is now reading, writing and helping illiterate yet intelligent and likable employee, Baptis provide service at Dave's fishing dock and restaurant business.
Robicheaux is now a police officer for the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Department dealing with an arrogant movie director who has unwittingly partnered with Streak's former high school baseball teammate, Julie "The Bone" "Baby Feet" Balboni, a vicious Mob Kingpin who has never been arrested or tied to his criminal enterprises and behavior--for good reason.
A series of grisly murders, the work of an unknown psychopathic maniac, with timing that leaves Dave suspecting mafia ties as he pursues the killer while bodies mount and his local support diminishes in proportion with the mob and movie production dollars being pumped into the local economy. As usual, Dave marches to his own cadence, does not trust authority and has a propensity for finding himself in dire circumstances of the worst kind.
Burke's writing skills are first rate. He paints a vividly descriptive setting in this perfectly paced, poignant, realistic tale filled with memorable intriguing Cajun characters in this action-packed episode of the series.
[As an aside, while I have not seen it yet, the big screen version of his book, was released in 2008 staring Tommy Lee Jones as David Robicheaux.]
4.0 out of 5 starsBest yet of the Dave Robicheaux series.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 12, 2016
Book 6 of Dave Robicheaux series. I would give it a "5" star rating. It is nothing to do with the book but I really have to reserve five stars to real classic must be reads like Emma by Jane Austen. I would recommend this book to everyone. It certainly does have a surreal atmosphere throughout. Wonderful descriptive prose. I think this is the best so far in this series but it is important to start at No.1. James Lee Burke once you get used to the style is up with Ian Rankin and Michael Connelly as one of the best. Keeps you guessing until the end. Others readers would probably give this a five star rating. The review giving one star, saying overwritten, yes perhaps he does wax lyrical a fraction too much, but when the prose is good it's really good. If I could give it a four and a half star I would.
5.0 out of 5 starsPossibly the best writer of crime fiction we have
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 7, 2013
It's a crowded field, but James Lee Burke is possibly the very best. He's certainly (by quite some distance) the most consistently powerful writer of crime fiction - there is no-one else who shows so successfully how the lyrical and the beautiful can be only seconds and inches away from the brutal.
Burke's world is grim and extremely violent (although he's not usually unnecessarily graphic) - but also full of glory, beauty and compassion. It is an absolutely compelling mixture.
In fact, he's one of the very best stylists alive, and deserves to be considered in the widest context of literary fiction, not confined to a genre.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 5, 2012
This is a Robicheaux I missed originally, but it is one of the best in my opinion. Burke cleverly links Civil War stories with current crime in Lousiania and does so with his usual writing skills. the clarity of his expression - how well he paints the word-pictures lends itself especially well to the eerie involvement of dead confederate soldiers in a modern story. My other plus from this is the absence of 'over the top' violence from Clete - he's not in this one- and Burke keeps a more balanced approach which supports the flow of the story. For those who are already Burke fans - this is a must, and it is a good starter for those who are not!
5.0 out of 5 starsHis best novel. A wonderful combination of plot
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 6, 2016
His best novel. A wonderful combination of plot, characterisations, superb descriptive prose, history and the mysteries of the boundaries between life and death, dark and dawn, sin and retribution, anger and control: the balancing act that is life. This man writes like an angel but with ink from the demons.
I saw the film and was so enraptured I had to read the book. The film is a fair reflection of the book and the book did not disappoint at all. I will now have to read all the Dave Robicheaux stories and look forward to that. The 'Confederate' in the story works very well. In some ways, this is standard crime fare but the wrapping works intelligently and thoughtfully, for, we are never free of the past, nor should we be.