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"Inside the fence or outside the fence, we all stack the same time."

  • Sep 1, 2010
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Burke has an uncanny ability to expose the failures of society, his Detective Dave Robicheaux novels set in Iberia Parish,, Louisiana, and neighboring places, where the old world still battles with the new and the mythology lays claim on daily existence. As the years go by, Dave Robicheaux remains a dedicated cop, bedeviled by his own history, sober after years of violence and grief, as tied to his past and love of place as Burke. As one of Burke's iconic characters, Robicheaux embodies the modern man's struggle for nobility when surrounded by temptation, the burdens of southern culture a cause of conflict for this particular protagonist. Dave's shadow, PI and ex-Vietnam vet Clete Purcel, evokes memories of the dark side, a man with a good heart assaulted by images of war and years of self-abuse, alcohol never really obliterating the reality. This time Clete is too near the edge, unable to assuage his appetite for oblivion or justice, too easily tempted by a local man who feeds of the troubles of the neighborhood, cloaking his ill-intentions in the fa├žade of charity and aid for the poor.

Clete's contretemps with Herman Stanga is just the tip of the iceberg, albeit key to the plot, the ex-vet's rage unleashed by the murder of a young black woman in another parish, anonymous even in death. Like it or not, the moral compasses of the two men are inextricably bound, their fates tied together. In any case, Robicheaux has his own worries, his adopted daughter Alafair being courted by a wealthy local writer, Kermit Abelard, scion of a powerful family, his literary success as seductive as his southern charm. More troublesome is Abelard's friendship with an ex-con turned writer, Robert Weingart, riding the crest of his best-selling book about incarceration. The quandary remains the same for Robicheaux and Purcel, with a diverse cast of familiar characters, ex-cons, unhappy wives, power brokers who have little tolerance for the likes of Dave and Clete. This is Burke's home ground, the murky landscape of the human condition. That his protagonists are deeply flawed makes them all the more fascinating, Dave and Clete's personal demons as out of control as the felon who stalks Alafair without breaking the law. Pushed to the edge of his personal boundaries, Dave teeters dangerously, clinging to Purcel.

Burke has a way of cracking the world open, exposing its evil and slamming it shut before the mind can grasp what it has just seen, the sun breaking out from the dark and filling the sky with the miracle of creation. It is this juxtaposition of good and evil that makes Robicheaux novels as intellectually enlightening as they are entertaining. Dave Robicheaux has seen it all, his brain whirling with comprehension and a profound respect for the lessons his life has bestowed: "For me, unslaked bloodlust was no easier to deal with than a thirst for whiskey... that was so great I would swallow a razor blade to satisfy it." In perhaps his best effort yet, Burke delivers a stunning blow to sophisticated notions of good and evil in the modern world, stripping humanity of its facade, as the good dance a manic jig with the damned and innocents demand an accounting. Luan Gaines/2010.

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review by . October 12, 2010
4 1/2 stars      What could possibly draw the attention of Dave Robicheaux and the New Iberia police department more than the brutal death of seven young women?      Even more, Dave becomes unofficially involved when one of the women doesn't fit the profile. Bernadette Latiolais was a high school senior and honors student who had been offered a college scholarship.      When a body is dumped in the field of a cane farmer in New Iberia …
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Luan Gaines ()
Ranked #109
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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Starred Review. MWA Grand Master Burke offers everything his readers expect--brilliant prose, prosaic situations that suddenly become mystic experiences, and a complex plot that repeatedly plumbs the depths of human depravity and the heights of nobility--in his superlative 18th novel featuring Iberia, La., deputy sheriff Dave Robicheaux (after Swan Peak). Robicheaux finds himself dealing with adopted daughter Alafair's attraction to novelist Kermit Abelard of the degenerate Abelard clan (who echo Faulkner's Snopses), as well as trying to avenge the sadistic murders of two young women, aided by best friend Clete Purcel. Evil comes in many forms, from the psychotic interloper Vidor Perkins to Robert Weingart, a convict turned author, whom Kermit has championed. The sights, smells, and sounds of the Louisiana bayous become sensory experiences in Burke's novels, and death is a constant presence that threatens to overwhelm his angels with "tarnished wings."
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ISBN-10: 1439128294
ISBN-13: 978-1439128299
Author: James Lee Burke
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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