Swan Peak: A Dave Robicheaux Novel
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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:

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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-Plus Thriller

    The past comes back to haunt participants in this 17th novel in James Lee Burke's Detective Dave Robicheaux series.

    In this latest, which is actually a sequel to the excellent Black Cherry Blues, Robicheaux, his wife, Molly, and friend, Clete Purcell, are far from their familiar Louisiana roots. But trouble seems to find them wherever they go.

    While vacationing on a friend's ranch in rural Montana (where the author now spends part of the year), Clete has a run in with a mobster from his past. This leads their paths to cross that of a pair of wealthy oil tycoons with suspicious ties to a sexually deviant evangelist. The gruesome murders of two college students and a porn film maker and his wife add fuel to the mix.

    There's a sub-plot involving a country singer/rodeo bum who was formerly involved with the wife of one of the oilmen. He is an escaped con and is being pursued by a Texas gunbull haunted by demons of his own.

    How these two plots intersect adds to the compelling thrust of the novel.

    I have yet to read a Burke novel I didn't enjoy and this is no exception. Few American mystery writers write such lyrical prose, create such complex characters or offer more engaging plots.

    I eagerly await the 18th Dave Robicheaux adventure.
    ...more info
  • Another great read
    I never tire of this author and this character. Burke also keeps things interesting by occasionally changing the venue, this time the wide open spaces of Montana, instead of steamy New Orleans. His character development, especially the bad guys, is amazing. You get a true sense of evil in the scoundrels. Also, love his partner Clete, who continues his near sadistic and devil-may-care attitude when someone crosses him. My only question is how long can he last doing all the maniacal stunts he pulls. Seems sooner or later Clete may have to fall.

    James Burke.....I wish you a long and literary prolific life....more info
  • James Lee Burke
    Review will be short. I love James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux books. I rarely read his books as soon as I get them. I save them much like you would hoard sweets to be enjoyed later....more info
  • Return to Big Sky
    Dave & Clete & Molly are on vacation from New Orleans, back in Big Sky Country Montana when old ghosts of several kinds rear up and murder most foul entangles them with some very very bad customers.

    Ah, it's summertime and another James Lee Burke Dave Robicheaux novel. Burke's style has smoothed out to such a pleasurable read that, for my money, he can write a Robicheaux a year forever and it'll suit me fine. He gives a lot of time in this one to Clete Purcell who is a favorite character of mine. Bad bad villains, Burke's poetic touch with scene and setting, unexpected and explosive violence from Dave and Clete, and always good and surprising characters and situations. Burke's earlier work was denser, but like all series writers, time and comfort create a simpler and cleaner style, and while I liked the earlier work for what it gave, I equally admire the smooth delivery of the later stuff. The stars are for fans.

    ...more info
  • Brilliant, one of his best
    This is a scary, exciting brilliant novel. It is a Dave Robicheaux novel. Sometimes James Lee Burke's prose is so lyrical that it reads like poetry. This story is set in Montana, where Dave, his wife Molly and Dave's best friend Clete Purcell are visiting. I won't give away the story. There are several candidates for the bad guy and you don't know for sure until the end who is who. There is redemption, passion, betrayal, love, hate--just about everything that makes a great book. Of his novels, I think this is James Lee Burke's best work.
    ...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
  • new venue
    Disappointed at first, that we were not going to be in Louisiana, it did not take long to get fully immersed in the new venue and as usual a compelling tale.

    Can't say enough good things about Will Patton's incredible reading of this novel....more info
  • Good as always
    James Lee Burke is a master craftsman. His books create an atmosphere of danger and built-up pain in the central characters.

    Dave Robicheaux is such an enigmatic character, one who is driven for justice as much as he is driven to avoid the demons of alcohol. His counterpart Clete Purcell is a man who has the appearance of toughness but is one of the most vulnerable characters in literature today.

    Read Burke's books, he is that good....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
  • 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
  • In his top third, not top 10%
    This book is better than his recent efforts in terms of the descriptive writing and eloquent language. He's written better 10 years ago, however. There are some passages in Swan Peak that stop you with their wonderful writing, but not as many as I recall from the books including and around Confederate Mist.
    One negative to the book from my perspective is that he has 2 characters who begin the novel in same sex situations and then each character magically discovers sex with a different gender partner and sticks with that. It's a bit unrealistic, particularly in the case of the lesbian FBI agent.
    Good to see Burke in good form after I was so disappointed with the new Elizabeth George novel that I read right before Swan Peak. George and Burke are normally my favorite 2 authors.

    Paul...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
  • The Ultimate Cage Fight
    In the world of literary mystery fiction, is there anyone better? I don't think so. The first paragraph begins the journey and the writing never bores nor does the story stall. From sultry New Orleans, Burke has sent his two tough guys to the Montana skies without missing a beat. It would be amazing if Robicheaux met Jack Reacher (Lee Child's hero) in the Ultimate Cage Fight. The bad guys in Burke's book always make me want to slap someone. At least scream. In Swan Peak, they are no less nasty.
    Ron Lealos author of Don't Mean Nuthin'. ...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
  • One Thing Leads to Another: Karma Creates Connections
    Consider Swan Peak a taut Dave Robicheaux thriller about bringing down the bad guys transferred from Katrina-depleted Louisiana to sparking Montana. Since Louisiana is usually the major character in this series' books, that shift cuts down the local color by one star.

    Are there sleazy people in Montana? They seem to be everywhere that Dave and Clete Purcell look.

    Dave and Molly have left Louisiana to recover from Katrina, and Clete has joined them. Naturally, it doesn't take much for Clete to begin stirring things up. In this case, a choice of campground begins an escalating conflict that no one seems to be able to or wants to avoid.

    Pretty soon bodies are piling up around Dave and Clete, but it's not clear what the motives are. Both with and without encouragement, Dave begins investigating. That search draws them both into the business of the local, reclusive rich who want to drill for oil and gas and make lots of money through evangelism. It's an odd group of people, and the closer you look . . . the odder it gets.

    In a related story line, a convict looks to do his time and get out . . . but a gun bull has other ideas.

    The book's main weakness is that James Lee Burke often tells rather than shows what's going on. At times, you'll feel like you are in a lecture hall rather than reading an engrossing book.

    As usual, the story has more slime in it than ten usual murder mysteries. But overcoming the slime is part of the appeal of this series so I'm sure you know what to expect.
    ...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
  • Swan Peak(ed)
    Not up to par, but series may be running out of steam. Still, Burke's command of writing garners three stars. Serial killer a little far-fetched....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
  • Swan Peak: A Dave Robicheaux Noel By James Lee Burke
    Item arrived on time and in great shape. I have read all the books written by James Lee Burkeand I have enjoyed them all. Great Writer....more info
  • Just so-so
    I bought this audiobook to listen to on a long drive. It was interesting enough to listen through the end, but I frankly wished I had an alternative. I just didn't like it very much perhaps because I didn't connect with any of the characters....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
  • a great read

  • 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
  • '...a secret well of sorrow...'
    There are enough plot summaries here, so my attention turns to the meaning of Burke's offerings.

    'Then one of those strange and unexpected moments occurred, the kind that makes you feel every human being carries a secret well of sorrow whose existence he or she daily denies in order to remain functional.' (p. 156)

    At its heart, Burke's writing shows us that the meaning of life is how each of us deals with pain; and how for so many our pain is concealed by all manner and degrees of destructive behavior against self and others. The juxtaposition of how his achingly beautiful prose embroiders this wrenchingly ugly truth takes my breath away.

    His violence is not gratuitous, but always connected to a story of the agony which spawns it. Most of us probably don't manage our pain in such extreme ways. But if his journey into the darkness of the human soul helps us see how our own layers of the personality onion protect our tender core, it will be for the better of all....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
  • 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
  • Dark Side
    The Dave Robicheaux novels all seem to follow the same cookie cutter recipe. There are downtrodden people being manipulated by greedy and immoral wealthy/privileged people. Dave and Cleet bring their torch of justice with them to shine light in the dark corners and sterilize the area. What makes them so enjoyable is the use of the language by Burke and the reading (books on tape) by Will Patten. This novel has definitely taken a turn to the darker side, which is an interesting change, but it has not gripped me like his previous novels....more info