As a long-time and avid fan of James Lee Burke, I had to get this and read it as soon as it was available. But my reading is still a wee tad slow due to various causes, so although it is certainly is a page turner, I took plenty breaks. I’m not going to worry about getting my speed and stamina back. I’ll read at whatever pace gives me most enjoyment.
New Iberia Blues
by James Lee Burke
2019 / 465 pages
read by Will Patton -15h 3m
rating – A+++
So this is book #22 in the Dave Robicheaux series. Robicheaux is a homicide detective with the New Iberia force in Louisiana. These aree dark and gritty tales, but sublimely well written and the effect is like thick cream flowing slowly over coarse sharp gravel. The setting and internal dialogue of Robi-cheaux is where the creamy smooth wondrous literary narrative lies, while the plot, action and dialogue are the sharp-edged gravel, In some ways they’re similar to the crime novels of the old Elmore Leonard or more recently, Stieg Larsson, but Burke probably gets the prize for grit.
So here we have Dave finding the dead body of a young black woman which washed up on shore from the bayou. She appears to have been crucified and is wearing only a small ankle bracelet. Clete Purcell, Robicheaux’s best old drunk buddy and informal partner in crime detection, Alafair, his grown adopted daughter, and Helen Soileau, his boss, are all on hand to help. There are a few other characters from recent novels also included.
It seems that Desmond Cormier, local poor boy who has done quite well in Hollywood. has now come home bringing with him a strange friend named Antoine Butterworth. Added to that there is a death row escapee on the loose as well as a known trigger-happy nut-case out for some kind of vengeance. Dave, as usual, is haunted by his own demons which include three dead wives, his old battle scars and booze. The East Coast Mafia is involved somehow and maybe even Russia are endangered. Prostitutes and other women are definitely endangered.
If these books were less beautifully written I’d throw them across the room in a heartbeat. But with an underlying theme of good vs evil and some allusions to classic literature – I have to keep going.