"Swan Peak" shows James Lee Burke's rich character portrayals, detailed descriptions of the natural surroundings of western Montana and demonstrates his ability to tell a suspenseful story.
Dave Robicheaux, wife Molly, and best friend, Clete, are on vacation in Montana after experiencing the devastation of hurricanes Rita and Katrina in New Orleans.
When a pair of double murders occur and the local sheriff seems overwhelmed, they offer their services.
Ridley Wellstone, a wealthy Texan, wants to drill test wells for oil and natural gas on his land by Swan Lake. He lives on his ranch with his brother, Lyle and Lyle's wife, country and western singer, Jamie Sue Wellstone.
When Ridley becomes aware of Dave and Clete, he accuses them of working with a person who has filed an injunction against him and bad feelings begin to simmer.
A parallel story involves Jamie Sue's former boyfriend and father of their child, Jimmy Dale Greenwood. Jimmy Dale is in jail for a minor offense and becomes involved with an intolerable situation with prison guard Troyce Nix. When the situation gets even worse, Jimmy Dale escapes to prison and heads to Montana and Jamie Sue.
As we learn more of the people who were killed and more of what is going on at the Wellstone ranch, we see why Dave Robicheaux is such a popular character. He's humble and not perfect, he's an alcoholic who attends regular meetings. However, he's also a protector of the poor and less fortunate people who are being taken advantage of by wealthy opportunists who believe that they are above the law.
The characters in this novel are interesting and well developed. Troyce Nix is a character who makes such a transformation in this book that he will be remembered and the story itself is contemporary and shows the author at the top of his skill.
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