Black Cherry Blues

I’m starting to get it. I didn’t get it at first when I read The Neon Rain about two years ago. I said, “It’s quite dramatic and over the top. A little too much so, that’s why I say the jury is still out on this series.” But now I’m hooked on Burke and the jury is in; I will continue to hammer through Burke’s crime series and I’m becoming a big fan of the main character, Dave Robicheaux.

I wonder where Burke gets all the character traits for the dark and tormented Robicheaux. According to his bio, Burke lives in Missoula, MT and New Iberia, LA, which are the very locations that this novel takes place. So I’m guessing that he has melded together some local characters and himself. Grafton does this I think, but her style and main character are a lot different (but there are similarities). I like reading the the author biographies and sorting through these things. I just found out that Burke has a daughter named Alafair, which is the name of the child Robicheaux adopted in his second book. This, coupled with the setting, means that there’s a lot of Burke in Robicheaux.

That’s cool. Things like that bring me closer to the characters, the books, and the authors, making it an extended reading experience, so to speak. It just makes the pursuit more fun.

Burke’s novels throw some variety into my crime reading. So many crime novels have a single, childless, independent, often smart-alecky protagonist (at least the ones I read do). Robicheaux kind of conforms to this caricature. He’s a widower now and his daughter is adopted. But he’s not a smart alec. And he’s not very independent; leaning mostly on his therapist, AA group, housekeeper, bait shop employee, and adopted daughter for support. But in return, he helps these people out a lot and shows them much kindness. They are often the reason why he has to unleash some brutal attacks on the bad guys of the world.

This good and evil in the extreme is very interesting. It’s almost unnerving because the people he loves are often in harm’s way. Especially his daughter. In this book she needs constant protection because he hauls her along while he is tracking the bad guys. But he needs to do so because she’s a target. The tension is always there.

** SPOILER ALERT **

Luckily his daughter doesn’t get killed like his wife did in the last book (she was a one-book wife). This is only book three so I’m really anxious to watch the development of these two. It just seems that he has a lot of crimes to solve with kid in tow. It would be overly formulaic if she was threatened in book after book. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I have the next one in paperback queued up, but I probably won’t get to it until later this year.