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Swan Peak: A Dave Robicheaux Novel
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Product Description

Trouble follows Dave Robicheaux.

James Lee Burke's new novel, Swan Peak, finds Detective Robicheaux far from his New Iberia roots, attempting to relax in the untouched wilderness of rural Montana. He, his wife, and his buddy Clete Purcell have retreated to stay at an old friend's ranch, hoping to spend their days fishing and enjoying their distance from the harsh, gritty landscape of Louisiana post-Katrina.

But the serenity is soon shattered when two college students are found brutally murdered in the hills behind where the Robicheauxs and Purcell are staying. They quickly find themselves involved in a twisted and dangerous mystery involving a wealthy, vicious oil tycoon, his deformed brother and beautiful wife, a sexually deviant minister, an escaped con and former country music star, and a vigilante Texas gunbull out for blood. At the center of the storm is Clete, who cannot shake the feeling that he is being haunted by the ghosts from his past -- namely Sally Dio, the mob boss he'd sabotaged and killed years before.

In this expertly drawn, gripping story, Burke deftly weaves intricate, engaging plotlines and original, compelling characters with his uniquely graceful prose. He transcends genre yet again in the latest thrilling addition to his New York Times bestselling series.

Customer Reviews:

  • Swan Peak
    How can you move the "New Orleans" feeling to Montana? Burke does it with style. The elements are there and the story unfolds with his unique style. Not my favorite "Burke" but wonderful to experience and enjoy.
    ...more info
  • James Lee discourages me
    Everytime I think I am ready to write the Great American Novel, or at least something that will ring the cash register in Florida, I read or re-read James Lee Burke and decide my father wsa right when he said "I should be selling shoes". If Mr Burke is not the greatest living American writer he is certainly on the short list. Kudos, James Lee, and keep writing so I don't have to....more info
  • Formula? Sure, but he does it so well...
    I've read all the Dave Robicheaux novels, all the short story collections, his Bitterroot novels - hell, if it's out there, I've read it. Yes, James Lee Burke uses the same themes over and over. He uses the same characters over and over. Most of his work takes place in either Louisiana or Montana. But it's like watching old videos of the great musicians like Toscanini or Solti. You know they're played this tune before, probably dozens of times. But they do it so well, and they care so much about the music that you can only admire the job they do. James Lee Burke may have limited himself to only a few locations and only a few characters, but the story he tells with them is primal and true. Novels like "Swan Peak" are the closest thing to modern day Hemingway....more info
  • Another fine yarn...complex good guys, bad guys of all stripes!
    I am a serious fan of James Lee Burke and his protagonists. While not my favorite, I loved reading this book and had difficulty putting it down even when I had finished!...more info
  • Grit and Grace
    Grit and grace...It's these two elements that keep drawing me back to the writing of James Lee Burke. For years, the vibe of New Orleans and New Iberia set the stage for Burke's memorable sets of characters, but in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he has painted stirring portraits of those bygone days.

    This time, Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel are in Montana, with plans to fish and relax. Dave has turned more introspective with age, contemplating his eventual demise, while Clete seems more determined than ever to walk down a path of self-destruction. Enter the brutal demise of two college-aged kids not far from where Dave and Clete are staying, and things quickly turn sour. Clete is into his usual trouble. Dave is playing damage control for his best friend and for his own set of inner demons.

    All of this sounds familiar to Burke fans, and it is. But he adds nuances to our old friends, while also bringing in a colorful cast of villains and down-and-outers. Troyce Nix and his unveiling throughout the story is a masterpiece of characterization, fortified by the steady touch of Candace. We run into disingenuous preachers, double-minded law officers, and many who just want to find peace with their past so that they can move on.

    It's these elements of tragedy and violence, with hints of grace and peace, that make this one of Burke's best--and that's saying a lot....more info
  • montana dreamin'
    james lee burke has the soul of a poet, and his songs of life are what separate him so dramatically from other authors in the mystery/thriller genre. his worth as a writer cannot be measured by the intricacies of his plots or the brutality of the crimes committed; they are simply a backdrop to the real story - the battle between good and evil which rages in the hearts of all men, at times raising us to heights shared by soaring eagles, and at other times, dragging us down to the depths and depravity of hell....more info
  • As improbable as ever, but.....
    Up front I have to say I love James Lee Burke's books. This one I enjoyed
    more than the last two he wrote. Again, one has to accept the highly
    unlikely premise that everywhere Dave and Clete go, they get into large
    doses of trouble. Even a fishing trip in Montana, as far away from their
    home turf as possible, turns into a wild ride for the boys. But, who cares? It is always a highly enjoyable trip and Jimmy Lee doesn't disappoint. Burke fans will love it. ...more info
  • Tangled Web
    In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Dave Robicheaux, his wife, Molly, and sidekick, Clete Purcell, leave ravaged New Orleans for some R&R, peace and quiet and some fishing in Montana. But where Dave and Clete are, tranquility is rarely, if ever, present. No sooner do they get there then trouble finds them--in spades.

    While fishing, Clete is accosted by two men telling him he is trespassing on the land of a wealthy Texas oil family, the Wellstones. Soon, Dave and Clete are in the middle of not one, but two, double murders. Clete's past association with a mafia don comes home to haunt him. Then Clete finds himself amorously involved with the wife of one of the Wellstone brothers, among other entanglements. Meanwhile there are subplots involving other characters, and it all becomes very complicated.

    Written with the accustomed smoothness of a Robicheaux novel---this is the 17th in the series---the setting enables the author to pay tribute to one of his two homes--Montana--where he lives in addition to the one in New Iberia, LA, Dave's normal domicile. It all comes down to an astounding finish. Don't miss this one!
    ...more info
  • Reviewing: "Swan Peak" by James Lee Burke

    For those of us who write stories and are occasionally published, we are constantly told to never open a fiction piece with either a dream or the weather. The reasoning being, according to agents and writing experts, that such an opening is either clich¨¦d or weak and makes the submission worthy of the instant rejection. That and the stigma of having ignored the current expectations of the publishing coasts and by doing so, showing that the writer is oblivious to doing things correctly. Ironic then, that James Lee Burke opens the latest novel in the Dave Robicheaux series doing both and it works well.

    Two years after Katrina ripped apart New Orleans, Clete and Dave and his family are spending the summer in Montana. The "Bobbsey Twins from Homicide" are far older these days physically and mentally and both are in deep mourning. Not only in regards to their lives and the choices they have made or had forced on them from time to time, but they also still deeply mourn the city that exists no more. Unlike heroic and flawed gunfighters of old, they haven't literally run off a cliff, but emotionally they have and are still in free fall with no landing in sight. The current plan is to heal body and spirit as they stay on a friend's ranch and to ignore the rest of the world around them. If only it was that simple and with Clete Purrel nothing is simple.

    Clete literally lost his way the night before and end up camping on what he thought was vacant land but wasn't. Instead, he has spent the night on the Wellstone ranch and has drawn the interest of two of his security goons. Goons that used to work for a very bad mob guy who died a few years back in a plane crash. The goons are bad news and should have been splattered all over the hillside years ago where the mob guy died.

    Instead, they are working for a shady and very rich man, Mr. Wellstone, who happens to own the property virtually next door to their friend, Albert Hollister. That may or may not have something to do with the fact that within hours of Clete being asked to leave his campsite, two brutally murdered college kids are found nearby. Knowing they are in the area and have knowledge and experience that could help, the local sheriff asks Dave to advise him.

    Something that probably would have happened anyway because neither Clete nor Dave can leave things alone when there are degenerates in the neighborhood. And there are a lot of them in this 402 page long winding navel gazing novel. While much better than the slit your throat depressing ode to New Orleans also known as "the Tin Roof Blowdown" this novel is another book that spends an inordinate amount of time going nowhere.

    Along with the contemplation of the wrath of Katrina made worse by political incompetence and the concept of aging as what you knew ceases to be now, the old theme of evil that has been a constant spine of James Lee Burke's work is considered again. It is considered constantly because Burke, through his characters, attempts to determine if people are born into dark evil or instead through fate, exposure to others such as family, war, friendship, etc descend into evil. Is one made evil at birth or born into evil and corrupted? While not a religious novel in that sense, there is a certain religious pondering that runs through the novel as the topic is considered. It is no mistake that at least one character is saved by the love of a flawed woman and in essence, reborn and able to change his ways and find peace.

    That consideration of evil and the beginnings of evil can go on for pages at a time and further slows down a slow work. A work made slow by far too many characters who are described in detail and used in story lines to stand as testimony to salvation and rebirth through the love of a flawed woman.

    It would be easy to deeply analyze this book on religious grounds and write a college level paper for some English or psychology class regarding all the deeper level of meaning in the book. On that level, the book succeeds as it slowly works through several different themes and concepts. Read as a mystery tale, it doesn't hit the mark as too many characters have little relevance to the primary story line in a read that hardly goes anywhere for more than 300 of its 400 pages.


    Kevin R. Tipple ? 2008
    ...more info
  • Dave, Clete -- Please come home.
    Although I am an unapologetic James Lee Burke fan, I was disappointed in Swan Peak. The Montana setting, with its big skies and vistas, diminishes the claustrophobic effects of the South Louisiana locales that serve as major character in most of the other Robicheaux/Purcel tales. Horrible things are happening to little people in a big world instead of big people in a more confined space. Despite Burke's superlative craftsmanship, the disonnance of scale lessens the overall power of the book.

    That is not to say Swan Peal in anything less than a worthwhile read. Dave is still haunted, Clete is still a runaway bus in a school crossing and the rest of the cast is finely wrought, but Swan Peak remains a fish out of water. As both the characters and the author age, one can only hope for a homecoming....more info
  • Swan Peak
    Even in a strange place, our boy comes thru with flying colors. His pal needs some real help with his ghosts. The description of the area was excellent. On a par with his descriptions of the "big easy". The cast of characters was well done, as usual, however, he needs to get back to bayou country. I await the next story with anticipation: Where will it be located?? ...more info
  • A complex plot with so many disparate time frames and characters makes for a cohesive and brilliantly written novel
    James Lee Burke dwells in that rarified stratosphere with writers whose fans so anticipate the arrival of a new novel that they snap it up, sight unseen, the moment it hits the market. His writing is like a straight shot of single malt Scotch, or dark chocolate laced with Grand Marnier --- an acquired taste, fueling the imagination with a jolt to the system. Each new event in the life of Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux is a journey with a hero who has battled more dragons than St. George. Dave's legendary triumphs over the mafia, the degenerates and the saints of the mean streets of New Orleans, and the cops who are made up from both sides, are laid against his internal battles with alcoholism and personal loss. His lifelong best friend and former NOPD partner, Clete Purcell, battles his own inner demons with a heart that is even bigger than his hulking form.

    Dave and Clete have survived the hell that was Katrina, so richly portrayed in Burke's last stunning novel, THE TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN. Along with Dave's ex-nun wife, Molly, they seek escape from the ravaged Louisiana coast to a friend's mountain ranch retreat in Montana. As they look forward to casting their lines in the trout streams on a relaxing getaway, their idyllic escape is shattered when two college kids are found brutally murdered on their host's ranch.

    Dave reluctantly accepts a deputy's badge to aid local police in interviewing witnesses. When two tourists are savagely killed in a manner bearing similarities to the college students' deaths, the two veteran detectives see a pattern that the rural sheriff's department overlooks.

    Dave and Clete, both veterans of Vietnam, harbor ghosts that are never laid to rest. Their reputation for violent and sometimes lurid events as New Orleans cops follows them no matter how far they roam, but they don't expect to find their vacation haunted by the ghost of an incident that occurred over 20 years earlier. As Clete drinks and brawls his way ever further on his self-destructive journey to hell and beyond, he manages to lumber into the midst of an FBI investigation. Sally Dio, a vicious New Orleans mob boss who was believed killed in a 1989 plane crash in Montana, remains the subject of a reopened FBI investigation. Clete was an early suspect in that long-ago plane crash, and his arrival on the scene two decades later is viewed with suspicion by the Feds.

    SWAN LAKE, with its wild and woolly cast of country western singers, holy-roller evangelists and con men, grabs you aboard a whirlwind ride to a surprising plot twist at the end that will keep you turning pages into the wee hours.

    Only James Lee Burke can weave a complex plot with so many disparate time frames and characters into a cohesive and brilliantly written novel. Our two heroes, both pushing their luck conducting police work at an age when most cops are either retired or dead, can still hold their own against bad guys of such monumental evil. Burke portrays raw human nature against the backdrop of a world gone slightly mad. To know Dave Robicheaux and the vivid characters who live in his world is to admire his strengths and weaknesses in equal measure. His fans are happy that the old boy still has the chops to keep up the good fight.

    --- Reviewed by Roz Shea...more info
  • Extraordinary novel
    Having read almost the entire literary output of James Lee Burke, I can say there is nothing in his admirable works which reached this level. Swan Peak is a s complex in plot and developed in descriptive detail as any reader could wish. In this big novel, over four hundred pages, there comes a mid point where the many stories seem to be diverging and then Burke starts to entangle them in such a way that the multiple tales, Robicheaux and Purcell, the Wellstones, J. D Gribble, Troyce Nix, and even Sally Dio from an earlier story and all their associets figure in the resolution. Meanwhile Burke explores his theme of the causes and effects of violence in and on the human heart. All of this takes place in an area stretching from Texas to Montana, on farms and in cities, mansions and revival tents, in the forests and along the high trout streams of Montana. At one point Burke speaks of Hemingway and as we observe the fly skipping across the stream in the early morning light, the trout on the campfire frying pan, the coffee pot on the boil we cannot fail to visit the Big Two Hearted River or the streams in the mountains in The Sun also Rises. As the novel comes to a conclusion there is a sense of the importance of "the struggle" in an otherwise dangerous and depressing world and a sense of the continuing need for self forgiveness and a desire for justice.

    This is not an easy read. It is not a beach book. It is not happy. It is a serious and thoughtful look at our world by a novelist who has taken the hardboiled detective genre to some new level, that of the literary novel. It demands attention but it repays it in the pleasure that great art always gives. Burke has achieved what will be seen as a true masterpiece.


    ...more info
  • A little overblown - not the best James Lee Burke, but still worth reading
    I'm a fan of James Lee Burke and the Dave Robicheaux novels (I especially like the character of Clete Purcell). Unlike a lot of other popular series, the Robbicheax novels haven't faltered much over time, in fact, some of the strongest entries in the series have been the most recent. That is, until now. It isn't that Swan Peak is a bad novel; it's just that, in a strange way, it feels as if Burke has taken some of the qualities that make his novels stand out and overdone them.

    His novels have always been dark and complex and his characters tortured and flawed. I've always liked that about his novels, but where previous novels have been elevated by these dark musings, Swan Peak gets bogged down by it. In moderation, the haunted ramblings of a tortured soul, adds depth and atmosphere to a novel. But overdone, the novel loses momentum and becomes derivative.

    I also found that this novel, like so many of the Robicheaux novels, has Dave going toe to toe against a wealthy, powerful family that is rotten to the core. The murders in the novel feel oddly disconnected from the rest of the storyline and the resolution to these murders is strangely unsatisfying.

    But still, a weaker Burke novel is better than most. I always enjoy Burke's prose although it is admittedly overwrought at times. Burke weaves various plot lines together effectively and while the novel is ripe with gothic melodrama, it's compellingly rich and complex. The dialogue is as sharp as ever. Few authors convey street language like Burke does (perhaps only Elmore Leonard is better). And then there's Clete, one of the most entertaining fictional characters ever put to paper.

    All things considered, this is not James Lee Burke's best, but it's still a solid read. 3 ? stars.
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  • Seat of your pants thriller
    The New Orlean detective hopes for some R&R in the Bitter Root Valley of Western Montana, but finds trouble follows him north. A gripping tale, but not for the faint of heart....more info
  • Write faster PLEASE!
    James Lee Burke cannot write fast enough to make me happy. This book does not disappoint and I am always a little saddened to turn that last page. The characters are so wonderfully flawed. Write faster James Lee, write faster....more info
  • Great American Author
    If you have not read James Lee Burke don't start with Swan Peak but go back to the very beginning of the series and work your way through a wonderful literary journey. I know I have a treat in store when I purchase a book and put it on the "to be read pile" for awhile because when I have read it there are no more to come for some time. I know have read a great book when I have finished it and am reluctant to pick up another book for awhile because nothing will top what I have just read. That is the way James Lee Burke novels effect me and Swan Peak is one of the best. The man can just flat out write like no other author I know.

    In this particular book there is the usual amount of violence and Clete Purcel seems to play a bigger role than usual. But there is also an underlying tender story about a Texas gun bull and a former stripper that
    evolves toward a touching conclusion. I found this to be a tremendously enjoying read and just a little different in some respects from some of the previous novels in the series. Do youself a favor and read James Lee Burke. Hope to see you at the little cafe in the Cascade Mountains one of these fine days!

    ...more info
  • I think this is the best of all the "Robicheaux" novels!
    If you've ever seen the movie, Heaven's Prisoners, starring Alec Baldwin and Eric Roberts, then you're already familiar with the character of Dave Robicheaux, an ex-Vietnam veteran and ex-NOPD Homicide detective who now runs a bait shop in New Iberia, a parish outside of New Orleans, and in the later novels, also works for the local police department, giving them almost as much grief as he did the NOPD in putting down the bad guys. Author James Lee Burke has been writing this series since the late eighties and has developed a large fan base of avid readers who literally crave a "Robicheaux" six every year. I know because I'm one of them. All the books in this fantastic series are good, while some are truly excellent and have a literary quality that will make them classics in the years ahead.

    Now, we come to the newest and perhaps the best book in the series, Swan Peak. Robicheaux, his wife, Molly, and his close friend and ex-NOPD partner, Clete Purcel, are vacationing in Montana this time around, wanting to get away from the chaos of New Orleans after its destruction by hurricane Katrina and the slow rebuilding by the U.S. Government. Trouble is the last thing that they're looking for, but it finds them nevertheless when Purcel discovers an out-of-the-way stream to fish in, only to be run off by employees of the Wellstone Ranch. This starts a chain of events that will not only include a battle with the Wellstone family, but the search for a serial killer who has been murdering for decades. Not only that, but the story includes a Texas gumball who travels to Montana in search of an escaped convict, who stuck a handmade knife into him after being sexually abused, plus the possibility that Sally Dios (the mobster that Pucel thought he'd killed in an arranged airplane crash) might actually be alive and seeking revenge. Before the ending is reached and nearly a dozen people have died, both Robicheaux and Purcel will find themselves on their knees beside an open grave, waiting to be executed and wishing there was a better way to die.

    Swan Peak is perhaps the most complex of the "Dave Robicheaux" novels with the author juggling several sub-plots around and managing to bring them all together into a perfect ending. There are characters you'll like and some you'll hate, and even a few you will change your mind about before the final pages are reached. I'll state right now that James Lee Burke is the most literally of the authors I read, and his prose is like the soft touch of velvet across one's skin, creating images that bring alive the beauty and essence of Louisiana, or in this case, Montana. His words have a way of capturing and captivating the reader, luring them into a scene as if they were living it to the fullest extent. His characters are always true to life, rather than caricatures that are generally found in other books by different authors. For me, Dave Robicheaux isn't a fictional creation, but rather a friend that I get to visit with once a year and play some catch-up with. In another sense, Robicheaux is "everyman" with his strengths and weaknesses, attempting to live a good life while battling the evil that seeks to erupt from just beneath the surface of humanity and envelope those within its reach.

    The "Dave Robicheaux" series is probably the best in its genre, giving new authors a look at what it takes to master the written word and to tell a damn good story. Swan Peak will grab you in the first few pages, offer you strong characterization, tense plotting, prose that will have you reading out loud, and an ending that will take your breath away. James Lee Burke has done what most series authors never achieve: he's written a novel that surpasses the previous books in the series. Highly recommended!


    ...more info
  • excellent! (minor spoiler alert)
    I've read all of this series. For longstanding fans of Dave and Clete, this will be a treat, as usual. For others, the thing that strikes me as noteworthy is that here there are characters who redeem themselves. Troyce Nix, an abusive prison guard, does the right thing in the end. J.D., the country singer on the lam, can't help it that he does the right thing and saves people's lives -- and ends up surviving himself. And so it also goes for Candance, who by happenstance brings Troyce a world of good and in effect saves J.D.'s life. The book has a quality of the redemption of lost or unlucky souls -- something that the earlier books in this series bestows on Clete, but not generally. It is strangely upbeat for this excellent series. Highly recommended....more info
  • Save the book. Loose Will Patton. Soooo drawn out.
    Have listened to many of Burke's novels with Robicheaux. I love his grand story telling but, Will Patton makes it all so tedius.

    Granted, this novel may be a bit redundant but Will's style (however much aclaimed) is so very labored from start to finish. Well I guess I can't claim to the finish as I bailed out after the first disc.

    Narrators can and should bring much to the authors writting. Too much gravity sunk this one for me.
    ...more info
  • Audio version
    We listened to the audio version while traveling cross country. The reader was talented but the story was so raw and brutal it was hard to take. I have never read this author before and probably won't again. If stark brutality is your thing you may like it but be warned it is not for the faint of heart. The only thing we really enjoyed was the outlandishly descriptive language which was sometimes so over the top we had to laugh. The author must write with a text book of over blown adjectives with the object of using as many as he can cram onto the page....more info
  • A master
    "The great joke is that any wisdom most of us acquire can seldom be passed on to others. I suspect that reality is at the heart of most old people's anger."
    Our hero is getting old. The author passes on some of his wisdom that will be passed from hand to hand, as long as great writing has value. You can't read Burke quickly. A turn of phrase, an image, causes the reader to pause, repeat, reflect. A treasure for his audience....more info
  • Chapter 17 in the Life of Dave Robicheaux
    "Swan Peak" is the seventeenth book in James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series and, by now, longtime fans of the series probably know Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell better than they know their own real life first cousins (and might even enjoy their company more). What makes "Swan Peak" different from other Robicheaux novels, though, is that it is the first book in the series to be set entirely someplace other than in south Louisiana, home base for Robicheaux and his sidekick. But even in Montana, Robicheaux and Purcell, being who they are, manage to attract the attention of the same kind of people who have caused them so much grief in New Orleans and New Iberia for several decades.

    Being one of the good guys (and these two, despite their numerous flaws, are definitely two of the good guys), even while on summer vacation, is not always easy. It is especially not easy for Clete Purcell who cannot control his mouth when he is hassled by two thuggish security guards for inadvertently camping overnight on private property. And it is not easy for Dave Robicheaux for one simple reason: he is Purcell's best friend, and nothing about being Purcell's friend is easy. Dave, his wife, Molly, and Clete may have come to Montana for a little R&R and lots of fishing, but very little fishing, and even less R&R, is what they get.

    When a pair of college students is brutally murdered on a hill that overlooks the property they are staying on, Dave and Clete find themselves slowly sucked into the crime's investigation, an investigation that soon threatens to blow up in their faces when every rock they overturn unmasks yet another lowlife pervert willing to do whatever it takes to remain under the radar of local cops and the FBI.

    A James Lee Burke novel is one to be savored and, unlike most novels of its type, Burke's books do not make for quick reading. "Swan Peak," containing several subplots and numerous characters that sometimes cross from one plotline to another, is no exception, demanding to be read with a certain degree of attention if its full impact is to be felt.

    Along the way, we meet both a Texas prison guard searching for the escaped prisoner who almost stabbed him to death and that prisoner, a talented country singer and picker who has come to Montana to find the woman he still loves, herself at one time a successful hillbilly singer. But before he can find the man he so badly wants to hurt, the guard finds Candace, a waitress who sees good in him that he does not even see in himself. There are the Wellstone brothers, unscrupulous oil operators from Houston, one of them terribly disfigured by burns but married to the very woman for whom the escaped prisoner is searching. And then there are characters like the sexual predator and tent preacher, Sonny Click, and the insane serial killer who delights in killing in the most painful ways imaginable - lots of characters, lots of subplots, all masterfully tied together by the end of the book into yet another powerful chapter in the lives of Dave Robicheaux and Cletus Purcell.

    Don't miss Chapter 17.
    ...more info
  • Swan Peak Review
    Burke does it again. His less than perfect heros, Clete & "Big Mon" fall into a situation that requires a couple of White Knights and ends up with results that fill the bill. Great action and even romance enhance a some complex activities with terrifically plotted twists and turns and culminating with terrible effects, I love the action and way characters resolve problems in the fast moving adventures of Dave Robicheaux and company. Can't wait for the next enstallment
    JMB...more info
  • Engaging With Caveats
    My wife and I have been reading James Lee Burke since he started being published. His descriptions of his surroundings, and his prose in general have become increasingly impressive and delightful, suggesting he may be studying the Masters. Indeed, in this book, if prose can be rated on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best, this book should be rated a 10! Further, I suggest that readers beware: if you have other pressing "gotta-do's" on your agenda, don't start this book because you likely will not put it down until you have read the last sentence.
    I rated this book a 3.5 vs a 5.0 because, along with being more prosaic, Burke seems to me to be increasingly base, ugly and disgusting in some of his characters who have barely graduated from animals to humans. The details of one man raping another could not bave been more repugnant, and, I believe is a first for Burke. A backhoe operator digging deep graves in which he intends to deposit newly created human corpses is also a first. As Burke has said, in this and previous books, worms and snakes crawl through his mind in all phases of daily living & sleeping --- lonliness, fear, exhilarations and on and on. There are just more pages of this kind of repugnances than I care to read.
    In summary, this is a book that is well worth reading keeping in mind these caveats....more info
  • A home run for Burke and Hammer
    I prefer to listen to Burke's Robicheax books because Mark Hammer is an excellent reader. He has that Cajun Louisiana accent down pat. Also, he is an expert reading that snappy wise guy dialogue the Burke writes so well. It breaks my heart that this will be the last team effort for Burke and Hammer as Mark Hammer died earlier this year.

    And now to Burke. Like many other reviewers I have read everything he's written that I can get my hands on. Luckily there are a few I haven't read and I'm saving them like the last pieces in a box of chocolates.

    Unlike most reviewers, I think this is the best Robicheaux book yet. I love his discriptions, especially of the characters. Aspiring writers should read him to educate themselves. His dialogue is strong and colorful. One little gem which cracked me up was the character saying he had RDD (rationality deficit disorder).

    Many people have faulted Burke for the dark and greusome passages. Well, this is a detective/crime/mystery series. Hello! It's not really my favorite genre, but I read this series because Burke is such a good writer. And there is an underlying theme of redemption, especially in this book. That's why I rate it so highly. When a writer can make the reader thoroughly detest a character at the beginning of the book and love him at the end (don't want to give too much away), then that's darned good writing. I, too, wanted to follow him and his lady to the Cascades. It would be wonderful if we could meet them again in an upcoming book....more info
  • High country murder
    Fans of James Lee Burke will love this latest book about murder in Montana and the foibles of sidekick Clet Purcell....more info