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Publisher's Summary

After finding himself caught up in one of Louisiana’s oldest and bloodiest family rivalries, Detective Dave Robicheaux must battle the most terrifying adversary he has ever encountered: a time-traveling superhuman assassin.

The Shondell and Balangie families are longtime enemies in the New Iberia criminal underworld and show each other no mercy. Yet their youngest heirs, Johnny Shondell and Isolde Balangie, rock and roll-musician teenagers with magical voices, have fallen in love and run away after Isolde was given as a sex slave to Johnny’s uncle. 

As he seeks to uncover why, Detective Dave Robicheaux gets too close to both Isolde’s mother and the mistress of her father, a venomous New Orleans mafioso whose jealousy has no bounds. In retribution, he hires a mysterious assassin to go after Robicheaux and his longtime partner, Clete Purcel. This hitman is unlike any the “Bobbsey Twins from Homicide” have ever faced. He has the ability to induce horrifying hallucinations and travels on a menacing ghost ship that materializes without warning. In order to defeat him and rescue Johnny and Isolde, Robicheaux will have to overcome the demons that have tormented him throughout his adult life - alcoholism, specters from combat in Vietnam, and painful memories of women to whom he opened his heart only to see killed. 

A Private Cathedral, James Lee Burke’s 40th book, is his most powerful tale, one that will captivate listeners - mixing crime, romance, mythology, horror, and science fiction to produce a thrilling story about the all-consuming, all-conquering power of love.

©2020 James Lee Burke (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

What listeners say about A Private Cathedral

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Unrealistic and corny

We have read everyone of James Lee Burkes books. This is by far the worst. Overtones of science fiction. The only enjoyable part is Clete Purcell’s quick remarks. It is a struggle to finish this book as the author goes into time travel and devil personalities and witch craft.
I hope in future writings he will come back to some better stories.

26 people found this helpful

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Reads Like a (Bad) Neil Gaiman Novel

Dave and Clete shared so many visions, hallucinations, and dreams in this book it felt like I was reading a Neil Gaiman novel. I kept wondering if the apparitions were demigods or demons (neither of which I gave a hoot about). There was just way too much metaphysics in this novel to take it seriously as gritty cop fiction. For me, A Private Cathedral is really bad fantasy writing wrapped in some outstanding Burke poetic prose.

I get that Dave and Clete are two very messed up individuals who can easily be forgiven their occasional transmogrification moments while navigating between the living and the dead. But this novel is so wholly wrapped around a few cliche phantasmagoric entities that the characters (all of them) become parodies of themselves. I had several gimme a break moments with this novel (ouch...this is James Lee Burke).

Just because you can write it James doesn't mean you should. This novel is B-Grade fantasy, made for CGI, TV-scripting. Movie deal?

18 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Love Affair

My love affair is with great characters like Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell who continue to keep me coming back time and time again into their tormented and imperfect world. More than that, I keep coming back because James Lee Burke is heads and shoulders above any modern day writer. His gift with prose and describing events, scenery, and the complexity of his characters goes well beyond any other. I dare say, Mr. Burke belongs to the list of classic writers like Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, and others.

This particular tale takes place after the death of Bootsie and while Alafar is still in college. He misses her absence, but there is only one brief but memorable encounter with his step daughter. Robicheaux shares the lead this time with Clete Purcell who adds both his overly violent nature and his misunderstood soft side to the goings on that tell a story of death and the supernatural that will linger with the listener long after the conclusion of this story.

As far as narration, Will Patton comes through once again as the voice of Dave and the other assortment of characters. His delivery is spot on and it is a pleasure to listen to. Should Dave Robicheaux ever be portrayed in cinema again, Will Patton would be the perfect choice. Unfortunately, what has been done thus far just does not do the justice of Mr. Burke's character. Speaking of which, there has yet to be any portrayal of Clete Purcell who definitely deserves to be right there with Dave as the former NOPD Bobbsie Twins.

Interestingly, Mr. Burke and I are 180 degrees apart in our political views, but I refuse to let that get in the way of my enjoyment of his works. His thought process that the far right is the cause of our current political unrest is counter to my view that the left is taking every opportunity to make all of us feel guilty about the sins of the past. They are the real cause of our current turmoil using every riot and the current COVID 19 crisis to paint the right as the culprits of discontent in order to line their own pockets and push for power. Enough said on that Mr. Burke as I know we will never agree, but I do love you. Thank you and please, please keep these splendid works coming.

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Full tilt fantastical masterpiece

After hinting at all the supernatural forces surrounding our brave protagonist and his cohorts throughout the series, Burke finally leaves no room for doubt. Dave doesn’t just imagine things, he isn’t crazy, doesn’t only suffer from PTSD. He still has plenty of brain cells left despite his past problems with drink. Davy really does live in a world amongst many others, suspended in timeless animation, all while Burke leaves its implications to the reader. How wonderful it is to finally take that unambiguous plunge with them.

This is a book that transcends the past restrictions that in all the stories shackles our heroes to the land of the living. It’s no mystery anymore. Nor is it a mystery how entertaining it is to ride along with the gang while watching all past books in the series also become transformed. You’ll be completely transfixed by these new (or not quite new) developments. I’m now going to have to start from scratch and reread the series from the top.

Perfect pitch narration as always by Mr Patton. He remains one of the top performers in his field. He possibly even kicks it up another notch. His work speaks for itself. I only wish that he would be commissioned to re-record the entire series. I would strongly recommend this. If Will Patton was to record every unabridged book in the series I wouldn’t hesitate to buy them all. I suspect many other readers feel the same way.

In short, not only can’t Mark Hammer’s past narration hold a candle to Patton’s of brilliant narration of Burke’s stories, but few narrators can match Patton’s narration of any story period.

Any fan of Dave, Clete & co will be transformed by this new masterpiece by the ageless master of storytelling James Lee Burke. I already can’t wait for the next installment.

10 people found this helpful

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I'm finished with Robicheaux.

Offensive and disgusting. I've liked all Burke's other books in the series even with the grisly violent scenes. This one has gone over the edge. He's taken Robicheaux over the edge with him.

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Sadly disappointing

I’m a forever fan of Mr Burke’s work, and I ordered this book before it was released because I didn’t want to miss a new Dave Robicheaux novel. Will Patton does his usual wonderful reading, Dave is his lovely, conflicted, honorable self, and Clete Purcell is irresistible, but a supernatural theme destroyed the story for me. The final scene is hard to follow, and even the last words of the novel seem to be just tacked on. I’m sad for Mr. Burke. Perhaps bills needed to be paid, or perhaps he’s sick of this character but felt he had to satisfy demands for more Dave Robicheaux from the public. Whatever the reason, Mr. Burke took what had been occasional supernatural perceptions by his characters and cobbled together a horror story filled with plot points that are never explained. I hope this book is just an aberration for a usually fine writer.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Really? Goblins, Demons, Dave and Cletus?

As always, Will Patton brings the incredible writing of James Lee Burke to life in every character. The problem for me is the characters. They are over the top - unbelievable. And unfortunately, some are 'unreal'. Not my kind of story. A disappointment for me mainly because I have no tolerance for other worldly fictional characters or time travel-ish story lines. If this is your thing, you will absolutely be drawn in and taken away by this richly written novel.

8 people found this helpful

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Hard to get through.

Will Patton was fantastic as usual. Burke not so. Have read 22 of Burke’s books & he has always been one of my favorites. I may not read another if they are anything like this. Will Patton could not even redeem this one. My best description of this book is inane, with no class or substance to the story.

7 people found this helpful

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Another great book by James Lee Burke

After so many books it’s amazing how each is still a great read, never boring or disappointing. The characters are fully developed. This book had a little more of the supernatural but it was acceptable due to the bayou & New Orleans locale and what Dave & Clete, both larger than life, have been through. I started the book and finished it within 3 days. Will Patton’s reading is the best.

7 people found this helpful

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Narration is fantastic

I love JLB, and there is a lot to love in this book. Beautiful, melodic prose...sadly for me it is accompanied by a mostly disjointed story.

5 people found this helpful