Pegasus Descending: A Dave Robicheaux Novel Hardcover – Jul 18 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Drawing on classical antecedents, bestseller Burke peoples his 15th Dave Robicheaux novel (after 2004's Crusader's Cross) with his usual assortment of near mythic characters, demonstrating how our everyday lives are beset with age-old, universal dilemmas. New Iberia, La., detective Dave Robicheaux, for whom redemption has become a lifelong pursuit, suits up once again to tilt against villains both real and in his own troubled psyche. Twenty-five years earlier, the young alcohol-soaked cop witnessed his friend and fellow Vietnam vet, Dallas Klein, executed by a group of cold-blooded thugs. He was unable to intercede because he was plastered. Now, a young grifter who may be the victim's daughter, Trish Klein, has appeared in New Iberia, passing counterfeit money and baiting Whitey Bruxal, the aging mobster responsible for Dallas's death. Meanwhile, Dave investigates the apparent suicide of pretty young co-ed Yvonne Darbonne. Are the two cases linked? Dave thinks so, and he enlists longtime loose-cannon sidekick Clete Purcel to prove it. With peerless naturalistic descriptions and lush, metaphysical imagery, Burke creates another challenging morality play for his flawed, everyman hero. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In James Lee Burke's novels, the past in never farther away than the ripples on the bayou outside Dave Robicheaux's New Iberia, Louisiana, home. This time it's Robicheaux's dark personal history--when the detective "was still going steady with Jim Beam straight up and a beer back"--that interferes with the tranquil present for newly married Dave. When Trish Klein turns up in New Iberia, it doesn't take long for Robicheaux to realize she is the daughter of his old friend, Dallas, who died in an armored-car robbery that Dave witnessed but was too drunk to stop. To make amends, Robicheaux must solve the several interconnected murders that track back to the man behind the armored-car hit. Everything that makes this series so compelling--the elegiac, seductively lyrical prose; the complex character of Robicheaux; the lovingly evoked bayou setting-- is here in abundance, and if it doesn't galvanize into something quite as special as the last episode, Crusader's Cross (2005), that's only because we've come to expect so much from this series. The fact remains that no serious reader of hard-boiled fiction should ever miss a moment of Dave Robicheaux in action. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
Now, out of nowhere, Dallas Klein's daughter, Trish Klein appears in town. In a set-up remarkably similar to Baldacci's Camel Club story of Annabelle Conroy's vendetta against mobster Jerry Bagger (both were published in 2006 so it's hard to say who beat whom to that plot-line punch), it looks like she's gunning for revenge against her father's murderer. Of course, as with any police procedural or psychological thriller worth its salt, James Lee Burke has expertly upped the ante with multiple plot lines that weave in and out of one another throughout the novel - a young girl's suicide after a drunken fraternity debauch and a brutal gang rape; the hit-and-run death of an aging drifter that, on the evidence of the post-mortem, has much more sinister overtones; and the complex life of the local black dope dealer.
Although this is the apparently the 14th novel in which Burke has placed Robicheaux on center stage, this is the first time I've had the pleasure of sampling Burke's craftsmanship.Read more ›
More than most stories in the series, Pegasus Descending is mostly a character study of Dave. With the exception of his friend and former NOPD Homicide partner, Clete Purcel, the other characters display little depth, development or progress in the story.
Don't get me wrong. There's plenty going on, but that action is mostly a backdrop for us to better understand Dave's thoughts, memories and feelings. He's a complex character and becomes even more so in this story . . . particularly when confronted with mistakes he made because of being too trusting.
As a result, Dave (and readers) come to see that although there are some real monsters out there, most of the non-monsters are pretty complicated in their motives, actions and feelings. That was the story's strength, that sense of humility that develops slowly . . . like a well cooked gumbo.
When Dave was still a drunk, a training assignment took him to Florida. Mr. Burke captures this period beautifully in this phrase that opens the book, "In the early 1980s, when I was going study with Jim Beam straight-up with a beer back . . . .Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Dave Robicheaux is still a detective, working for the Iberia Sheriff's Department. The year is 2005 and three unsolved deaths are on Robicheaux's plate. First, a young co-ed getting ready for college is found with a gunshot wound to her head. It looks like a suicide, and the detective can't figure out why this apparently happy, well-adjusted girl would have taken too many drugs, had sex with more than a few men and then shot herself. The skeletal remains of a homeless man (nicknamed Crustacean Man) are found in a drainage ditch and seem to have sat there for 12 months. His injuries are not consistent with a hit and run. And a college student, Tony Lujan, is killed with a shotgun. Robicheaux suspects that all three deaths are related, but can't find the pieces that will tie this puzzle together. He keeps coming back to the same names: Bellerophon Lujan and Whitey Bruxal, two men who have mob ties and are in the casino business. Unfortunately, the politically ambitious DA, Lonnie Marceaux, wants to pin the crimes on a small-tine black drug dealer, Monarch Little. How Pegasus Descending plays out is riveting and I was completely surprised at the end.
Many of Burke's characters that we have grown to know and love are back. Cletus Purcell is always there for Robicheaux and is always good for a few belly laughs. Robicheaux seems a little more grounded with his new wife, the former nun Molly Boyle. The women in Robicheaux's past tended to be victim-types. So it's refreshing for Robicheaux to have two strong women in his corner, wife Molly and Sheriff Helen Soileau. There is a new female FBI agent in town who provides some comic relief. Betsy Mossbacher gets the nickname Calamity Jane when she backs into a sheriff's cruiser her first day in town. Robicheaux can't decide whether Homeland Security has drained the FBI of their "first team" or maybe she's being punished. But despite the humor, there is always an underlying blackness in Burke's books whether it is caused by Robicheaux's battle with alcoholism, lost opportunities, senseless deaths, and with Pegasus Descending, the looming specter of Hurricane Katrina.
Many writers of mystery series run out of energy, ideas, characters, etc. once they've been at it for awhile. Luckily for his readers, Burke is still at the top of his game in Pegasus Descending.
Dave Robicheaux is a survivor of too much of a good thing. Long off the bottle he is still paying for his affair with alcohol and as another reviewer said, the past is never far away. Trish Klein, a young scam artist, turns out to be the daughter of Robicheaux's best friend and fellow Nam vet Dallas Klein. Robicheaux witnessed Dallas' execution style murder years before but was too blasted to intervene. Fast forward to now and young Trish has disappeared after ripping off a local mobster.
Burke has a love affair with NOLA. It will be interesting to see if he eventually incorporates Katrina into a future novel.
Pegasus is a must read for all Burke fans.
The first is the case of a young co-ed who is found dead of apparent suicide but the facts don't add up.
Then there is a black vagrant whose body is found in a gulley by the road. He is so decomposed, he is given the nickname the Crustation man. Not many people would care for the apparent victim of a hit and run but to Dave, it is a matter of justice.
Besides the third case, Dave is asked to question a young woman who is passing money at a casino that looks like it has the markings of a former hold up. Dave finds that this woman is the daughter of a friend that Dave had seen killed during an armored car robbery.
The third death is that of a college student. There had been a racial incident and the black man involved was known to sell drugs. The ambitious district attorney views this man as the main suspect when the college student is killed. However, Dave thinks that the man is being set up.
James Lee Burke is a master and the reader is glued to the action as Dave attemps to sort these crimes out. All of this is happening as New Orleans is on the verge of Hurricane Katrina and the destruction that storm brought with it.
Dave Robicheaux, with his sense of justice, his faith and his unstable temper is one of the great characters in literature. Together with his loyal but flawed side-kick Clete Purcel, these two characters leave an imprint that is unmatched.
Jim Burke keeps getting better. Readers of the last book in this series, CRUSADER's CROSS will recall that in that book Dave Robicheaux hooked up with a nun. In this book they are married and she serves as a sort of moral compass for a man who really needs one.
There are crimes to investigate. A suicide, or was it murder? A death by hit and run driver, or was it murder? And that vintage Burke signature crime from the past, bubbling up like swamp gas, the execution style slaying of Dave's pal years ago in Miami. Dave saw the killing but he was too drunk to do anything.
Now sober, Dave is trying to keep his sidekick Clete from drinking himself to death. While Clete seems destined for mayhem it is actually Dave who is wrestling with demons. He is so filled with rage he nearly beats a man to death. Of course, that man tried to poison Dave's pet raccoon so most animal lovers would concur that killing that creep would be justifiable homicide.
Burke conjures up atmospheres as dark as a hurricane blowing in. The weather is a metaphor for Dave's anger. Dave and Clete are classically flawed heroes. Think Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
Reading James Lee Burke is as comfortable as that favorite sweater or that pair of slippers you can't throw away. Each new book is such a pleasure. I hope he keeps writing for many more years to come.