This is book four in the Dave Robicheaux series. Robicheaux is fifty plus and it’s early in the series, yet he’s already quit two police departments: New Orleans and New Iberia (where his home is). Now, early in this novel, he takes a leave from the New Iberia sheriff’s department after getting shot transporting a prisoner. There are still like 15 books left in this series but I’m not sure if there are enough law enforcement offices left for him to quit.
I’m joking a little. I love Burke’s writing, his main character, and this series – and going over the top is part of the deal. He puts the reader on the edge early and keeps them there throughout. His main character gets shot and punched a lot, and the love interests seem to come out of the woodwork (this time it’s Robicheaux’s high school sweetheart, whom we haven’t been introduced too yet). Throw in some really bizarre descriptions of drunk demons and sprinkle in an adopted daughter who the reader has good reason to fear for, and you have an all-out assault on your senses.
Here is a classic example of Robicheaux confronting his demons:
But to be honest, the real purpose in my physical regimen was to induce as much fatigue in my body as possible. Morpheus’ gifts used to come to me in bottles, Beam and black Jack Daniel’s, straight up with a frosted schooner of Jax on the side, while I watched the rain pour down in the neon glow outside the window of an all-night bar not far from the Huey Long Bridge. In a half hour I could kick open a furnace door and fling into the flames all the snakes and squeaking bats that lived inside of me. Except the next morning they would writhe with new life in the ashes and come back home, stinking and hungry. (page 55, paperback)
That should give you good feel of the darkness in these books. It’s clear that Robicheaux will be exorcising a lot of demons over the next 15 or so books. I’m looking forward to it.
** PLOT KILLERS FOLLOW **
Things were wrapped up a little too tidy this time around, which surprised me a little. His old partner Clete makes an appearance and I think they are going to be seeing each other a little more because Clete is now set up as a private detective in New Orleans. And, as I mentioned, his high school sweetheart also makes an appearance and ends up marrying Robicheaux. My guess is that some tragedy will befall her over the next few books because she’s already set up with lupus (although it’s under control).
He also saves a “gangster with a heart” by making it appear that he died so he could run off with his sick kid to Mexico. In the last few pages, Robicheaux receives a letter from the gangster who is safely set up and living the good life. Sure, it’s kind of formulaic, that’s fine. We’ll certainly see this guy again.
This book had a ton of New Orleans in it. Plenty of trips to Cafe Du Monde and even a side trip to a LSU vs Ole Miss football game. He even mentions the Irish Channel neighborhood in New Orleans, which is also mentioned by Anne Rice in a book I was reading at the same time. What a coincidence!
I made a note to buy the next one in the series, A Stained White Radiance. Looking forward to it.