From Publishers Weekly
Homicide detective Dave Robicheaux is pitted against a handsome, urbane war hero of a bad guy instead of the typical obscenely grotesque villain in this latest installment of Burke's stellar series, set in New Iberia, La. It's a shift in adversaries that forces Robicheaux to take a different tack than his usual uncontrolled tilting at the windmills of elusive justice. As in many of Burke's novels (A Stained White Radiance; In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead), current felonies are tied to a crime from the past. Here, Dave's friend Father Jimmie Dolan is being stalked by Irish hit man Max Coll; linked to this intrigue is the story of blues singer Junior Crudup, who entered the hell of Angola Penitentiary in the 1950s and was never heard from again. In present-day New Orleans, three teens die in a fiery crash after buying drinks at a drive-by daiquiri stand. Porn star Gunner Ardoin takes a beating from Dave's sidekick, Clete Purcel, who wreaks his usual havoc. Mysterious lady cop Clotile Arceneaux keeps popping in with advice, and a minor thug, Jumpin' Merchie Flannigan, is married to Robicheaux's old girlfriend Theodosha. These are just a scant few of the characters and subplots that thicken the deep and complex gumbo of Burke's story. The writing is beautiful, as always, laced with the author's signature descriptions: "the sepia-tinted light in the trees and on the bayou seemed to emanate from the earth rather than the sky." This is an outstanding entry in an excellent series.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
*Starred Review* Change comes slowly to Cajun country, but it comes just the same. Dave Robicheaux, hero of Burke's long-running series, has been struggling with that fact for years, watching his beloved New Iberia invaded by everything from mobsters to Wal-Mart. This time the change is more personal. Dave's second wife, Bootsie, has died from lupus; his daughter is away at college; and his house on Bayou Teche has burned down. Adrift, Robicheaux is even more of a loose cannon than usual, and all it takes to light his fuse is the death of three teenagers, killed in a car accident after being served illegally at a drive-by dacquiri stand. Soon Dave is knee-deep in a murky swamp of tangled motives and secret history that extends from the dead girls through a maverick priest, a crazed assassin, and a blues guitarist who disappeared from Angola Prison in the '40s. It is the musician's story that gives the novel its freshness, as Burke seamlessly connects past and present while re-creating the horrors of the legendary Louisiana prison farm and evoking the power of the doomed guitarist's art. Change is inevitable, Robicheaux keeps learning, and, no, it isn't 1950 anymore. And yet, the past isn't dead, either, as voices from the grave keep singing to us, blind to the shadow of Wal-Mart. Burke is, above all, an elegiac poet; his sweeping, lyrical sentences give life to the dead and make living worthwhile for the Robicheaux in all of us. Bill OttCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved