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Publisher's Summary

"America’s best novelist" (The Denver Post) and "the reigning champ of nostalgia noir" (The New York Times Book Review) introduces his most evil character yet in the 20th thriller in the best-selling Dave Robicheaux series.

A New York Times best-selling author many times over, James Lee Burke is a two-time Edgar Award-winner whose every book is cause for excitement, especially those in the wildly popular Dave Robicheaux series.

In Light of the World, sadist and serial killer Asa Surrette narrowly escaped the death penalty for the string of heinous murders he committed while capital punishment was outlawed in Kansas. But following a series of damning articles written by Dave Robicheaux’s daughter Alafair about possible other crimes committed by Surette, the killer escapes from a prison transport van and heads to Montana - where an unsuspecting Dave happens to have gone to take in the sweet summer air, accompanied by Alafair, his wife Molly, faithful partner Clete, and Clete’s newfound daughter, Gretchen Horowitz, whom listeners met in Burke’s most recent best seller Creole Belle.

"James Lee Burke remains the heavy weight champ," says New York Times best-seller Michael Connelly, "a great American novelist whose unsurpassed." The master proves it once again with this harrowing novel that examines the nature of evil and pits Dave Robicheaux against the most diabolical villain he has ever faced.

©2013 James Lee Burke (P)2013 Simon & Schuster

What members say

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  • Dave
  • Stillwater Lake, NS, Canada
  • 08-08-13

Burke is still the best

Listening to Will Patton read "Light of the World" is like sipping a glass of chateauneuf du pape. You want to savor every moment and take your time doing it. I like James Lee Burke; I believe he is the best modern mystery writer. And Will Patton makes the characters and story come alive. I ordered this book a day before my monthly credit come through solely because I could not wait 24 hours for another Burke installment.
After surviving the events told in "Creole Belle", Dave, his wife Molly and daughter Alafair join Clete and his daughter Gretchen to look for some R&R at their old friend, Albert's house in Montana. Not surprisingly, instead of enjoying some days in the Montana countryside, they confront evil, evil personified in the satanic character of Asa Surette, one of the most vile characters, if not the most vile in JLB's or any other writer's novels.
JLB creates page turners and unlike other contemporary mystery writers he writes in the most hauntingly beautiful style. Listening to Will Patton read "Light of the World" (interesting title) is an engrossing spiritual experience.
If you haven't read James Lee Burke, it may be helpful to get :Creole Belle" first. However, they are stand alone novels and not a sequel as such, but it may help your understanding of the events especially Gretchen who first appears in "Creole Belle".

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

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JLB is getting a bit formulaic, IMHO.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. This is Burke's 20th Dave Robicheaux novel, and he is pounding on the Viet Nam trauma, alcoholism, Clete's penchant for violence, and so forth. His gift for describing locations is still unmatched: it feels like you are in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. However, the Wyatt Dixon character has become a standard crazy/dangerous guy, and Clete's daughter, Gretchen Horowitz, has also quickly begun to walk in her father's footsteps. The earlier books are much better.

Would you be willing to try another book from James Lee Burke? Why or why not?

I might try another of the Hackberry Holland books, as he is a different character from Dave Robicheaux, and he explores a more southerly part of the US, giving us once again Burke's remarkable gift at making us feel that we are living in the territory of the novel. Plus, Hack's right-hand-girl is a woman, and there is some heat between them, which is interesting.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Will Patton is great. He could not improve.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Maybe. Hollywood is eating itself (not my original words) and movies are only 100 minutes, in which they try to plug in hours of plot and character development. Very tough.

Any additional comments?


7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • ADA, MI, United States
  • 10-24-13

This is getting kind of formulaic

Any additional comments?

Love the characters and the settings, but really the plot lines are becoming predictable. Here, as in several previous novels, we have:The evil wealthy capitalist oil baron ruining the environment for his own greed. The shallow, callow and unlikeable son of the above.Greedy capitalist living in huge compound guarded by nasty goons.Poor, downtrodden, but noble victims of the above greedy capitalist (Native Americans in this case). Clete getting into fistfights.A psycho on the loose. Allafair in danger!Dave butting heads with fellow lawmen as he continues to ponder the nature and existence of people who do bad things. Same old stuff. Cheers

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Candace
  • ISLESBORO, ME, United States
  • 07-29-13

Burke read by Patton always a great listen!

Would you consider the audio edition of Light of the World to be better than the print version?

Absolutely...Will Patton is by far a master in the art of capturing the personality of every character. I've ordered books because Will Patton was narrating. Check out "The Son", Patton is great.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Yes. Every vignette leaves you wanting more. I totally enjoyed having Gretchen Horowitz return. James Lee Burke is one of my favorite authors and I have never been disappointed with a Dave Robicheaux story. This one had so many unexpected twists, you couldn't help but be on the edge of your seat. Don't hesitate to order this book.

What does Will Patton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

As I mentioned earlier, Will Patton is by far my favorite narrator. If you've never listened to him before, you are in for a treat. I get a charge out of his Clete Purcell interpretation and swoon over his Louisiana drawl in his Dave Robicheaux portrayal.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Marci
  • portland, OR, United States
  • 07-26-13

Seven reasons why this is the best Burke yet

Yep, I said it. This is the best Robicheaux novel yet. Burke just gets better and better. Here is a list of what makes Light of the World especially great:

1. They are back in Montana--it just adds an extra level of depth and interest when they step outside of New Orleans
2. Gretchen is back
3. Interesting story line including a tiny bit of "out of this world" type mystery. That's all I'll say, don't want to spoil anything.
4. New evil rich people
5. There's a little less Dave & Clete in this one. I know that sounds like it might not be a good thing, but it is. It shows the growth of Burke as an author. This story is even more complex with so many layers of characters and themes that he doesn't have to lean so heavily on his main characters. It makes for great unpredictability while keeping the comfortable themes you expect.
6. Alafair is in danger and is pissed off about it.
7. Clete falls hard for a woman he's not suppose to.

If you are a loyal follower, you'll note in the list what makes it so great. It's the combination of old and new, familiar and surprising, that mix that makes it perfect.

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 07-25-13

Brilliant one trick pony

As always, JLB's writing is masterful and his characters engrossing. I have to admit, however, that I do wish he would move on to a new theme. I found myself growing impatient with the periodic disquisitions on the nature and power of evil and the impotence of our common response to it. In addition, returning to this theme, which he has mined repeatedly in the brilliant Robicheaux series, forces him to create villains who, more and more, strain credibility. The fact that this was a particularly long entry in the series did not help matters.

That said, the most satisfying part of "Light of the World" is the presence of the entire crew of familiar characters, often working at cross purposes despite their profound affection and respect for one another. The basic human dimensions of Burke's writing are always both fascinating and satisfying. The addition of a pair of new characters who are complex and perversely endearing is an added bonus, and I suspect we will see them again in the future.

With the possible exception of one somewhat annoying character voice, Will Patton's work on this recording is brilliant. I especially like the way he changes not only his character voice but the narrator voice as well when the action moves from Dave's 1st person to Dave omniscient. Creative and interesting.

If this were the first Robicheaux novel I had ever read, I would probably give it five stars across the board. As it is, it was certainly more than worth the time and credit, but I do hope Burke will find some new thematic ground to till with Dave.

29 of 33 people found this review helpful

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Never stop reading Burke!

Many have observed the synergy between James lee Burke and Will Patton. Their artistic talents stand well enough on their own, but when put together they deliver on a scale equivalent with Sean Connery and Ian Fleming. Remarkable.

For audible mystery/ thriller addicts, any of the Robiceaux series are a no brainer. So any critique I have has to be taken with the understanding that this book is well worth it's price.

I've stated before that I'd feel safer in the Louisana of True Blood than that of Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell. This one is set in The Bitteroot Valley of Montana, but the results are the same. Our heroes are magnets of violence, cruelty and evil. Their lives are a constant contradiction, hating bad language and marital infidelity while shrugging off cruel violence. They grew up poor and with mean, ignorant parents, but quote Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Tennyson and various poets in the midst of unimaginable chaos.

When I read other great crime authors like Connelly, Slaughter, Nesbo and the like, I always marvel at the realism in each of their works. Robicheaux, Purcell and company are truly larger than life characters and their adventures are likewise. Nevertheless Burke's prose and style are matchless in this genre. So in a very real sense, for me anyway, all of the Robicheaux series is more like a Western fantasy world.

I suspect Burke wrote himself into one of the key supporting roles in this one. Dave, Clete and their daughters and Dave's wife Molly are vacationing at the home of a famous crime ) novelist (a New Orleans' native) in the Bitteroot Valley of Montana.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Gretchen and Alafair Are Highlighted In This One

In this novel, the daughters of the central characters, Dave and Clete, are front and center in this mysterious, serial killer story. Alafair is in danger and Gretchen is not having any of it. Gretchen is a skillful "hit-woman".... and she puts her skills to work!

I love being completely transported into the world of Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell. I like the smooth narration of Will Patton. When the story is over, I find it very hard, if not difficult, to get interested in a new author.... so I generally look for another James Burke novel.

In this novel, an escaped serial killer is looking to kill Alafair because of something she had written about him during his trial. During the investigation and hunt for the serial killer, Dave and Clete must sift through encounters with random people and situations to sort out the sinister picture being painted in this novel.

Will Patton.... you either love him or you don't! ... I love his southern drawl and the pace at which he reads... his accent may not be authentic but I don't care. I know Louisiana and there are lots of accents in that state. He brings JLB's written words to life!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • B.J.
  • Minneapolis, MN, United States
  • 07-29-13

The biggest problem is back.

This is the biggest problem with these James Lee Burke books: once they're over it's a complete dilemma as to what to listen to next. Will Patton is a fabulous narrator. He really is Dave Robisheaux. The plot line is always perfectly paced. While you're listening, you're completely transported into the world of Dave and Clete. When it's over, it's hard to get interested in a new book.

Again, this one is flawless. If you're a fan, you're in for a treat. If you've never listened to a Dave Robicheaux book before, you're in for an even bigger treat. Start somewhere earlier in the series. You'll have hours and hours of great listening ahead of you.

18 of 22 people found this review helpful

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I've listened to a half-dozen of Burke's Robicheaux novels (as well as a couple of his others). I find myself transported to the scene of the action in Burke's work more than almost any other author. His style of writing (and I'm not sophisticated enough to know if there is a genre to describe it) is so rich, layered and descriptive that is makes the content of the stories (often horrific) almost a runner-up to the constant narrative running through Robicheaux's mind. Robicheaux has seen it all, and has a world-weary aspect to his character. But he still holds out hope for the best in people, and these stories do always have redemptive aspects to them.

This is as good a novel as I've read in a very long time. Right up there with Creole Belle, the previous book in the series.

Will Patton is a wonder. His work is so smooth and he so inhabits these characters (especially Dave and Clete) that it's just a joy to listen to him. I must say that I found Gretchen's voice somewhat offputting. But other than that, it was just a lot of fun to hear Patton breathe even more life into Burke's already wonderful story. Will Patton is right up there with George Guidall in my personal polling for Best Audio Book Narrator Ever.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful