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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling author James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux novels began with this first hard-hitting entry in the series.

In The Neon Rain, Detective Robicheaux fishes a prostitute's corpse from a New Orleans bayou and finds that no one, not even the law, cares about a dead hooker.

More mayhem? Listen to more of James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux thrillers.
©1987 James Lee Burke (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"With its fine local color and driving action, this novel is both chilling and first-rate entertainment." ( Publishers Weekly)"One of Burke's best." ( New York Times Book Review)

What members say

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  • Overall

The perfect combination of author and narrator

I've listened to all the other Dave Robichaux novels on Audible, and was SO glad to see this early one released. Of COURSE the plot, the characters, the writing - is masterful. I agree with the other reviewers here - Will Patton is the perfect narrator. Listening to this book, I truly forgot that I was listening to only one man's voice. The combination of Dave R/James Lee Burke/Will Patton remains my FAVORITE listen from Audible.

57 of 59 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • 9S
  • 12-06-09

Where it all began.

Neon Rain marks the first appearance of Dave Robicheaux, Burke's idealistic Cajun cop. I've read/listened to all of the books in the series but had somehow missed this one. I encourage everyone who likes Burke's flawed detective to listen to The Neon Rain, by doing so you will gain insight into Dave's earlier life, and why he lives like he does.

Dave Robicheaux doesn't mess around. When he hears that he may be on someones hit list, he doesn't skulk and sneak around, trying to find out what's going on. Not Dave! He goes and asks the guy directly. He has a lot to deal with in this book; a dead girl, mobsters, drug and gun runners, kidnapping, a questionable partner, a new girlfriend, his own demons; and in the end he does pretty well, but probably not in the way you would expect.

The Neon Rain is a dream come true, a detective novel that bridges the gap to serious fiction with marvelous characters, an intricate plot, and lyrical prose. This is a novel I really admire.

77 of 81 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Daniel
  • Arlington, TX, United States
  • 06-10-09

Shows one why the Robichaux series is Popular

I'm a big JLB fan and this book may be the best in the entire series!

I REALLY hope all of the other earlier books are put into Unabridged audio format.

Will Patton is easily one of the top ten readers in the business and does a great job as well.

I want more!!

Highly recommended!!

33 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Neon Rain

James Lee Burke writes in the gray areas of life; people are both good and bad. What they do to each other and to their environment comes out of the balance (or rather, imbalance) of these two elements. Burke is very perceptive about the lack of sharp lines in morality and the rules of life.

At first I wondered if every Robicheaux book was going to be this much about him 'battling his demons'. The internal dialogues when Robicheaux goes off the rails get intense, but looking ahead at future synopses I see that he does evolve; he keeps fighting demons but it looks like they change.

One of the things I kept reminding myself is that when this book originally came out it was smack-dab in the middle of Iran-Contra and Vets fighting for acknowledgement about the damage from Agent Orange. Placing things in context makes a difference; those issues were forefront for many in the country.
By the end of this first book, I knew I was going to try some more; for some reason I feel like reading them in order. There are also a couple of stand-alone books I'd like to read.

Burke's writing is affecting; I read a couple of magazine essays by him, reinforcing my sense of him as sharp observer of human behavior and the world around him; it's complexities and it's contradictions.
Will Patton does a more than commendable job of narrating. One note, though; he's an actor--if Dennis Quaid can do a credible cajun accent then it's hard to believe Patton couldn't have done a much better one than his attempts in this book.

I am trying to find Heaven's Prisoners. Unfortunately Audible only has an abridged version, which doesn't interest me.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Stevon
  • Tempe, AZ, United States
  • 10-31-10

Where it all began...

Several years ago I discovered James Lee Burke and Dave Robicheaux and became a fan. I started working my way backwards in the stories reading the new ones that came out as well. So, it was a nice surprise when I discovered Audible had released a book written in 1987, remember the days before cell phones, pc's, hand held devies? Anyway, this was hard hitting from the beginning, gave good insight into the background of Dave, in this book he's still a NOPD detective and Clete Purcell and he hadn't bonded the way they do later. I enjoyed this book from start to finish and blew right through it in just a few days. Now where do I go from here?

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Burke always delivers!

I had already read this book, but when I saw that it was available in an unabridged format with Will Patton reading, I immediately downloaded it. I avoid the Mark Hammer narrations--I don't care for his style. The voice of Dave Robicheaux IS Will Patton. Burke is one of my favorite writers, and I love listening as well as reading.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Average detective story, with good narration

There's a lot of description of the environment and the times, although to me it seemed a little like name dropping to name the exact restaurant or item on the menu, or to detail the ingredients in a po'boy sandwich. As if that would somehow make it more "real", when all it did for me was upset the flow and feeling. More of a cliche of Southern Noir - although I know Burke has many fans.

As for the detective story itself? Meh. Nothing too terribly interesting or exciting, though not terribly boring or obvious either. The narration, though, was very good, and I could picture Robicheaux nicely from Patton's performance.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Will Patton only, please!

I can only listen to Will Patton read James Lee Burke. I tried his other narrator, and could not get past the first disk. Will Patton IS Dave and Clete and Helen, and all the rest as he reads the novels of Burke. No one else can hold a candle--I will have to read Jolie Blon's Bounce for myself--pity Will Patton didn't read that one also!

28 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Loose cannon cop fantasy with no payoff.

Will Patton's narration was just superb, and Burke is a good wordsmith who paints evocative backdrops of Louisiana (25 years ago or so), and does maintain suspense along the way. The bad news is the story is preposterously unbelievable, and doesn't really go anywhere sufficient to compensate us for suspending our critical faculties along the way.

Dave Robicheaux is the narrator and protagonist. In this book, he is a thug-rouge cop who goes around trespassing, destroying property, beating and shooting people, but all, fantastically, with truly incredible impunity. He delivers himself carelessly into the hands of experienced, ruthless killers multiple times, but they never just "off" him. He is even kidnapped from his indefensible houseboat, but then goes right back there like nothing happened, to pass out drunk, take nice naps in his hammock on the boat, and otherwise makes himself a big, fat, juicy, helpless obnoxious target, all without fatal consequence.

Similarly, Robicheaux perpetrates one blatantly illegal, blatantly violent act after another as a police detective, and while a raging alcoholic suspended police detective, with only token resistance from the law. The author unboxes his entire erector set to construct a panoply of conspicuous deus ex machina to keep this floundering fool alive and out of jail, from one chapter to the next.

Amazingly, we are repeatedly told by Dave's Captain / supervisor what a great, great, great detective Robicheax is, but everything Robicheaux does or tells us about himself, absolutely belies this. In the entire book, he doesn't arrest anyone legally as a police officer, doesn't bring even one single solitary criminal to justice by the law. Awesome great cop. Right.

Since the author gives us a narrator-protagonist whose actions consist primarily of illegal, antisocial, belligerent, brutish behavior, it just doesn't wash when he slides out the soap box to weave moral and philosophical ramblings in, around, and among the protagonist's violent and lawless rampages; --speechifying about Viet Nam, politics, society, morality, ethics, etc. Similarly, the incongruous insertion into the plot line of occasional vignettes of Robicheaux's self-righteous indignation at the acts of other bad cops just don't square with the consistent lawlessness of the "hero".

Now as I have said, there is suspense along the way in this story, and I'm okay with dramatic license and even blatantly unbelievable story lines, if there's some similarly dramatic payoff at the end. I mean, we all enjoy the guilty pleasure of say, a good James Bond movie right? Unfortunately, Dave Robicheaux doesn't save the world. He doesn't uncover a big government conspiracy (though this story line seems to be loosely based on the Iran-Contra scandal), or bust open the syndicate. He doesn't redeem himself by bringing anyone to justice before the law. At the end of his long bumbling trail of dumb thuggery, he has simply run out of people and reasons to bludgeon, beat, shoot, and / or utterly fail to make even one righteous arrest or a single legal case. I guess we're supposed to be elated when he resigns from the force and rides off into the sunset with the obligatory gratuitous love interest. More like good riddance to a floundering bad actor / unhinged whack job, in whom we are given little reason to sympathize.

This was a disappointing audiobook.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jean
  • Reston, Virginia
  • 05-20-10

Wonderful narration...

Will Patton is as good as anyone at delivering the accents, drama, soul of JLB Dave Robicheaux novels. I would much rather listen to him, even the abridged novels, than read them. And I just have a small quibble that only native New Orleanians would be troubled by. Some of his pronunciations are just off, and it's a buzz killer. A few that come to mind are Carondelay -when it should be Carondelette. And he's forever riding the St. Charles streetcar down the Esplanahd - I've never heard it called that, though there is an Esplanayde Avenue just outside the French Quarter. I think there are a few others that fail to come to mind. Like I said, a minor quibble, but Will, please fix it!

13 of 15 people found this review helpful