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Cadillac Jukebox [Paperback]

James Lee Burke
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Like a trip back to Louisiana. July 21 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I spent my early adolescent years in southeastern Louisiana and have a lot of fond memories of this uniquely charming piece of America. Burke's Dave Robicheaux never fails to transport me back to the gumbo restaurant in a trailer, the trek through a Morgan City swamp that brought me awfully close to an alligator, and Pete Fountain's jazz club at the Hilton. Simply put, Burke knows Louisiana and how to evoke it.
Cadillac Jukebox is overall a good read. It's basically a tale of the dark motives that drive people across the line from good to bad. Unfortunately, Burke let the story get too complicated. I wish I had made a chart of the characters as I read the book, because keeping track of who's who got confusing. The storyline also spreads out to the point that staying on top of it becomes a chore.
I thought the story got formulaic at points. The mythological symbolism in the fate of the husband-and-wife antagonists was over the top, like a classical bass drum roll at the end of a Warren Storm tune. But Burke didn't miss a beat with his characters. I was scared by Aaron Crown and Mookie Zerrang, I felt sympathy for Buford LaRose and enmity toward his wife, and I felt like I'd known Batist for a long time. Dave Robicheaux was as polite, resolute, and conflicted as ever.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
We can see why the readers from the Deep South, especially Louisiana, love James Lee Burke. His prose borders on poetry as he creates mind images for the readers that are close to cinematic in their descriptive power. Thus he recreates the geography, the sights and smells, of the bayous for his fan club.
Alas, his writing prowess does not necessarily translate to compelling story telling. While we found ourselves liking his leading man of some dozen of his 22 books, Louisiana cop Dave Robicheaux, a huge supporting cast of small time hoods, politicians, barflies, and so on, were difficult to follow without a scorecard. While Robicheaux and his wife Bootsie were well defined, most of the other players were not. Thus the plot became just as muddy as the bayous where much of the story is set. We found ourselves thinking Burke might be better at writing fiction that does not pose the pressures of a mystery, where clues and plot evolution have to lead to some relatively logical conclusion.
These findings seem to coincide with a majority of his reviews -- either one is overcome by his mastery of the language into more or less ignoring the story per se; or one is left admiring his imagery while finding that the story line disappoints as it unfolds. We would like to try a non-series Burke, perhaps his Pulitzer nominated "Lost Get-Back Boogie", to see if he can get it all together. Stay tuned.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Yes, James Lee Burke is a terrific wordsmith who can bring the Cajun backwoods and bayous alive for readers, but this particular work is quite simply, a sprawling, literary hodge-podge. The story is loosely woven to the point of being chaotic--Dave Robicheaux skitters here, there, and everywhere, including TWO almost gratuitous mini-jaunts to Mexico. The characters are "colorful," but in some cases, such as that of Aaron Crown, the eccentricity deteriorates into cartoon-like caricature. There are various smalltime gangsters who are hard to keep straight, there is a politician's wife who turns up periodically to strip off her clothes, taunt Robicheaux sexually, and then disappear in a cloud of vituperative hissing. And there are more than a few digressions and sidebars to the story that don't ever seem quite justified--it's all a bit much, methinks, and overall it makes for a story that never really hangs together adequately.
Still, Burke is a good enough writer that it's a hard book to put down once started. I think he has done better in others of his mysteries, however.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Robicheaux Rights Wrongs Readily Redux May 31 2000
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Dave Robicheaux is one of those rare characters in today's American detective fiction -- the honest cop with a heart of gold and the toughness to rout the bad guys. In a sense, he is a throwback to the sheriff in the old Westerns. The difference is that Robicheaux's setting is Louisiana, and its peculiar combination rural charm and especially corrupt politics.
You can read this series because you like the Robicheaux character. That would be enough.
Or you can read this series for its wonderful treatment of Louisiana and its people. That would be enough.
As someone who has visited this beautiful state and its interesting people many times, I love reading Burke's descriptions so I am especially drawn to the latter reason.
Luckily, you can read it for both reasons, and that is way more than enough to keep you happily entertained.
One caution: The violence can be pretty stomach churning. If that upsets you, this book is not going to please you.
This story is one of those interesting and rewarding ironies that makes reading fun. The story revolves around Dave's efforts to clear Lester Crown of the murder of a prominent black civil rights attorney 28 years earlier. Crown is hardly someone you'd invite home for Sunday dinner, and this helps to establish Dave's character. Who else would put his family and himself in danger for such a creepy guy?
Lots of people start putting roadblocks and inducements in Dave's way, but that only makes him more determined.
The ending will stay with you for a long time.
The characters ring true throughout, and make you glad you're rooting for Dave! He's our last, best hope. In fact, he's irresistible as a heroic figure. Enjoy!
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Swamp Cajun action!
Well, this was my first Burke book, and to say the least, it probably won't be my last. I was introduced to Detective Dave Robicheaux for the first time, and I enjoyed it. Read more
Published on June 18 2004 by Wolfe Moffat
4.0 out of 5 stars word candy for crackers
James Lee Burke's Cadillac Jukebox is a fine piece of suspense fiction, but it trades on rough language and violent situations. Read more
Published on April 24 2004 by Gary Lehmann
2.0 out of 5 stars Half-Way Through, He Just Lost Me
I've heard such good things about Burke, so I was pretty enthusiastic about reading Cadillac Jukebox. But for all my enthusiasm, this book just didn't do it for me. Read more
Published on Aug. 15 2002 by Nobodymmmmm
5.0 out of 5 stars Dave is a charmer...
I have read just about everything James Lee Burke has written, but my favorite character by far is Dave Robicheaux. Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2001 by C. Cronk
4.0 out of 5 stars The man does what he does well...
Anyone who reads Burke knows about his narrative style, and almost every fan has heard the "Chandler meets Faulkner" talk. It is all true. Read more
Published on June 28 2000 by Chad M. Supp
5.0 out of 5 stars HE'S A MAGIC MAN, MAMA!
I am madly, deeply in lust/love with Dave Robicheaux AND James Lee Burke. I've lived in the enchanting state of Louisiana my entire life and Burke makes me fall in love with it... Read more
Published on May 15 2000 by Marion
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Entry in the Series
Dixie City Jam is my favorite, but Burning Angel was my least. So I didn't know what to expect next from the series. I was not let down. Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2000 by Crossfit Len
Published on Feb. 12 1999 by Patti St Clair
5.0 out of 5 stars Another satisfying delivery by an outstanding writer
It isn't often that I have to interrupt my reading and find my companion so I can read passages to him to "share," but this happens a lot with James Lee Burke's books. Read more
Published on June 16 1998 by ryan@thomas.edu
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