Book Review – Robicheaux by James Lee Burke

I do like books that are well written and James Lee Burke writes beautifully. The man was born in 1936 and has been writing since the 1960s and has really honed his craft. No wonder he is a best-selling author.

Robicheaux (you know my name) is James Lee Burke’s latest book, published in 2018. Dave Robicheaux is a detective in a Parish near New Orleans, and the narrator of the novel (the 21st in a series). The author obviously loves southern Louisiana including New Orleans (even though he calls it the Big Sleazy); he writes about the countryside and waterways, the light and the weather such that you feel as though you are there, and enjoying the locales. His characters, I would not want to meet. They are all well developed and multifaceted, including the narrator who has his own demons. Robicheaux is a Vietnam veteran and a reforming alcoholic whose wife was recently killed in a suspicious car accident.

It is a crime novel with many twists and turns, with echoes of the old South and an unfavourable view of politics in the area. It is not a book for the squeamish. It shows some of the dark underside of US society and its gun violence. It kept me wondering what was going to happen next; there are no dull sections in the book.

This is the third of James Lee Burke’s books I have read and it is the best of the 3. I would also recommend Tin Roof Blowdown which is set during Hurricane Katrina and angrily shows New Orleans as a lawless wasteland with pathetic government intervention when the people really needed it. There is reference to this period in Robicheaux also.

I have Kevin T to thank for introducing me to James Lee Burke. As Burke writes crime novels, I probably would not have chosen to read one let alone 3.

Brian Holliday