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Last Car To Elysian Fields [Large Print] [Paperback]

James Lee Burke
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 15 2004 Dave Robicheaux
For Dave Robicheaux, there is no easy passage home. New Orleans, and the memories of his life in the Big Easy, will always haunt him. So to return there -- as he does in Last Car to Elysian Fields -- means visiting old ghosts, exposing old wounds, opening himself up to new, yet familiar, dangers.

When Robicheaux, now a police officer based in the somewhat quieter Louisiana town of New Iberia, learns that an old friend, Father Jimmie Dolan, a Catholic priest always at the center of controversy, has been the victim of a particularly brutal assault, he knows he has to return to New Orleans to investigate, if only unofficially. What he doesn't realize is that in doing so he is inviting into his life -- and into the lives of those around him -- an ancestral evil that could destroy them all.

The investigation begins innocently enough. Assisted by good friend and P.I. Clete Purcel, Robicheaux confronts the man they believe to be responsible for Dolan's beating, a drug dealer and porno star named Gunner Ardoin. The confrontation, however, turns into a standoff as Clete ends up in jail and Robicheaux receives an ominous warning to keep out of New Orleans' affairs.

Meanwhile, back in New Iberia, more trouble is brewing: Three local teenage girls are killed in a drunk-driving accident, the driver being the seventeen-year-old daughter of a prominent physician. Robicheaux traces the source of the liquor to one of New Iberia's "daiquiri windows," places that sell mixed drinks from drive-by windows. When the owner of the drive-through operation is brutally murdered, Robicheaux immediately suspects the grief-crazed father of the dead teen driver. But his assumption is challenged when the murder weapon turns up belonging to someone else.

The trouble continues when Father Jimmie asks Robicheaux to help investigate the presence of a toxic landfill near St. James Parish in New Orleans, which in turn leads to a search for the truth behind the disappearance many years before of a legendary blues musician and composer. Tying together all these seemingly disparate threads of crime is a maniacal killer named Max Coll, a brutal, brilliant, and deeply haunted hit man sent to New Orleans to finish the job on Father Dolan. Once Coll shows up, it becomes clear that Dave Robicheaux will be forced to ignore the warning to stay out of New Orleans, and he soon finds himself drawn deeper into a viper's nest of sordid secrets and escalating violence that sets him up for a confrontation that echoes down the lonely corridors of his own unresolved past.

A masterful exploration of the troubled side of human nature and the darkest corners of the heart, and filled with the kinds of unforgettable characters that are the hallmarks of his novels, Last Car to Elysian Fields is James Lee Burke in top form in the kind of lush, atmospheric thriller that his fans have come to expect from the master of crime fiction.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*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 Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The first week after Labor Day, after a summer of hot wind and drought that left the cane fields dust blown and spiderwebbed with cracks, rain showers once more danced across the wetlands, the temperature dropped twenty degrees, and the sky turned the hard flawless blue of an inverted ceramic bowl. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Burke churns out another Robicheaux classic! June 22 2004
Format:Hardcover
James Lee Burke's lead series character of Dave Robicheaux has become one of my favorites of recent years, and the latest in the Robicheaux series, LAST CAR TO ELYSIAN FIELDS, certainly does not disappoint. While not necessarily long at around 340 pages, Burke still manages to easily maintain three different storylines that, while seemingly independent of each other, all come together nicely in the end. This installment also illustrates the latest changes in Dave's life as he grows older and wiser. With his daughter Alafair at college and his wife Bootsie deceased, Dave continues on in his life alone. As always, colorful character and Dave's former partner Clete Purcel is a big part of the story and it's always interesting watching the two go back and forth.
The finest recurring quality of all of Burke's books is the beautifully descriptive prose. With the setting in the Louisiana bayou, Burke's colorful descriptions lets you close your eyes and imagine the setting with relative ease.
The only drawback from the book came late in the book. On several instances in the last hundred pages, it really seemed as if the autor was trying to push his political agenda on the reader. The remarks had nothing to do with the characters, hadd nothing to do with the storyline, and really distracted me from the reading experience for a few pages as I tried to figure out why those remarks were there.
Outside of that, this is a classic Burke and evidence that neither he nor Dave Robicheaux are showing any signs of slowing down!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Burke is Brilliant AGAIN April 18 2004
By M Slott
Format:Hardcover
Last Car to Elysian Fields is another in the Robicheaux series and like Jolie Blon's Bounce before it, is original, relatively complex and ultimately an excellent story that I had a hard time putting down.
Burke can be wordy, not nearly as so as king and others who don't seem to know when to shut up, but not in this book. His usually elegant descriptive prose is there, but not in the annoying extent that it can be found in other of his novels. Still, for me to complain about Burke's prose is pretty hypocritical since I consider the source of that prose one of the literary communities greatest assets...and he's just a mystery writer...yeah right!
Without giving away the plot, Burke has brought us Clete Purcell at his best, an ira hitman looking for absolution and a typical cast of unsavory southern characters, the higher eschelon's of southern society, forwhom Robicheaux has a natural distaste...as do I. Perhaps that's why I like Dave so much, he's a lot like all of us...a bit in the extreme but a lot like us.
Last Car to Elysian Fields is an excellent read, well worth the price. I highly recommend this book to any one who likes a good mystery, with lots of action.
MS
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4.0 out of 5 stars Multidimensional Mayhem Unbounded! April 9 2004
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Last Car to Elysian Fields marks a major turning point in the Dave Robicheaux novels. Dave seems cut loose from his few normal inhibitions, and lives to regret his loose cannon ways. He's clearly a man headed for a crack-up, and his increased vulnerability makes him a more interesting character. The plot itself is as unpredictable and complex as you can imagine without becoming overloaded.
One of the beauties of this book is that any one of several mysteries would have been more than adequate to have made this an above-average book. For example, an ex-IRA hit man, Max Coll, has a gambling debt he cannot pay off. He's given the choice of killing a Catholic priest, Father Jimmie Dolan . . . but something always intervenes to foil his efforts. Pretty soon there's a hit out on Coll as well. In a second plot line, a talented songwriter and singer, Junior Crudup, found his way into the bottom of Louisiana's prison system from which he disappeared with no trace. The prisoner turns out to have been used as a laborer by a prominent war hero who denies remembering the prisoner. In a third plot line, a 17 year-old girl kills herself and two others driving drunk. She got the booze at a drive-through "daiquiri window" . . . and someone wants to stop the investigation into the daiquiri window. Dave also finds the man who miswired his house . . . and caused Bootsie's death. Someone is bound to pay for that! In the background, there are also porn stars, ex-lovers, sleazeballs, and other assorted criminals. Against this backdrop, Clete Purcel is his most outrageous righter of wrongs.
After the book was over, I found myself thinking that this book must surely deserve to be a five-star book. Then, I realized that the novel leaves so little room for hope and redemption that I found myself more despairing about people than encouraged about them. I hope that in future books, Mr. Burke will also show redemptive qualities as well as the darker side of human nature.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The best writer in the genre Feb. 26 2004
By Larry
Format:Hardcover
James Lee Burke is simply the best writer of the genre in the sense of pure writing. Turn to virtually any page in the book and the most amazing descriptions and metaphors jump out at the reader. It is impossible not to be swept away by the sheer majesty of his language. Nobody evokes the Louisiana bayou like he can. The stories of the hapless hero, Dave Robicheaux, are complex and peopled by the most well mannered evil thugs in the universe.
Robicheaux's friend, Father Jimmy Doyle undergoes a severe beating in New Orleans. Robicheaux, a New Iberia detective investigates with the help of the violent but lovable Clete Purcel. Of course this simple act leads to an increasingly complex web of violence consuming the lives of both the good and the very bad.
Burke's stories never really change. That is the one problem with the books. Each particular work is outstanding but taken as a whole they appear quite repetitive. Names are unbelievably unique- Junior Crudup, Merchie Flannagan, Castille LeJeune, Sugar Bee Quibodeaux, among many others. After living for eight years in New Orleans, I have never come upon a set of names of the characters that populate a Burke novel. Nonetheless, they are so very realistic that the reader will truly feel they know each and every one before the end. Superb- just not unique to the author.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars How disappointing...
I bought this item because I was suffering an eye injury and thought to have a talking book to amuse me. Alas, the suth'n ac'cent was pretty difficult to understand. Read more
Published on March 8 2010 by Ann M. Collett
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing
With a precision writing style reminiscent of McCrae's BARK OF THE DOGWOOD and a plot worthy of Leonard's TISHOMINGO BLUES, this latest James Lee Burke does not disappoint. Read more
Published on June 18 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read from Burke!
Another truly great novel from James Lee Burke, on par with all of his others. What truly distinguishes Burke's novels is his gorgeous writing style--he truly evokes a sense of... Read more
Published on June 15 2004 by Fred Black
5.0 out of 5 stars A great listen!
My job affords me the ability to listen to tapes all day, usually theology lectures, but also novels. Read more
Published on April 3 2004 by matt
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar
With a precision writing style reminiscent of McCrae's BARK OF THE DOGWOOD and a plot worthy of Leonard's TISHOMINGO BLUES, this latest James Lee Burke does not disappoint. Read more
Published on April 2 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Living in the past.
Perhaps I should have read other books by James Lee Burke before reading this one as he obviously has had a lot going on in the colourful life of his hero, Dave Robicheaux, which... Read more
Published on March 23 2004 by Beverley Strong
5.0 out of 5 stars Hey, big mon! Did I miss something?
I guess I'd better go back and review the last couple of Robicheaux books, because I seem to have missed Bootsie's demise. Not that I was a big a fan of hers. Read more
Published on March 9 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars (3.5)The past collides with the present in New Iberia
Burke's latest Dave Robicheaux novel offers a cast of eccentric characters who thrive in the criminal underbelly of New Orleans and New Iberia Parrish. Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2004 by Luan Gaines
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex
There is hardly a writer active today who weaves a more
complex story, with such a vast array of characters, than
Burke. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2004 by bill runyon
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