The Neon Rain

This is the start of another crime/thriller series with one main character, a genre that is my most reliable source of pop fiction. I start at book one and follow the character through each novel in succession. It’s probably my number one outlet for non-organized, brainless, leisure time. If I have a break, and it’s not long enough to think about what I should I do next, I just crack open a book like this.

The main character in this series is a New Orleans homicide detective named Dave Robicheaux and so far he is the main character in 16 books. In this book, Robicheaux is investigating the murder of a prostitute and stumbles upon a shady network of arms dealers and drug traffickers. He gets embroiled in their world and has to end up kicking some ass to extract himself from it.

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. Robicheaux encounters just about every possible bad guy in this book; a dirty cop that happens to be his partner, a retired general that still thinks he’s fighting a war, a Columbian drug lord, a Mafia kingpin, an ex-marine killer, an ex-CIA killer. You name it. At the same time, he falls in love with a woman he meets while escaping from two dirty cops (other than his partner), his brother gets shot in the head, and he revisits his alcoholism by going on a bender to end all benders. Wow.

It’s a good story though, but I didn’t read it under the best of circumstances. It took me a few weeks to read because I’ve been really busy lately. When this happens, I get confused and lost sometimes. I didn’t give the book much of a chance. But I will read the next few and decide if I’m going to press onward with the series.

The thing that will keep me in the series, in the short term at least, is that it has a lot of New Orleans character. This is important to me in the same way that Hillerman’s novels reflect the character of the Navajo reservation and Grafton’s novels capture the spirit of California’s central coast. I like the way Burke describes Robicheaux’s meals, all of which have a New Orleans flare. Descriptions of food always stick with me. Burke takes you to Cafe du Monde, out for oysters, and to a shack for a po’ boy sandwich, among other things. He paints New Orleans as a unique and beautiful place, albeit somewhat troubled and riddled with corruption. But it is Robicheaux’s home, and through his first person descriptions you get a feeling for the beauty and peace of the city.