Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Washington Times Review Of James Lee Burke's 'Robicheaux'

The Washington Times published my review of James Lee Burke’s Robicheaux.

Dave Robicheaux, James Lee Burke’s troubled, flawed and heroic character, first appeared in the 1987 crime novel “Neon Rain.” The Cajun, semi-retired New Iberia, Louisiana, sheriff’s detective, a Vietnam veteran, former New Orleans homicide detective and struggling alcoholic, has throughout the series of novels seen more than one man’s share of violence and tragedy.

In “Robicheaux” Mr. Burke brings back his popular character to face off against his usual suspects; crooked cops, gangsters, corrupt politicians, psychotic killers, and heartless and greedy patricians.

Once again, Dave Robicheaux is both aided and hampered by Clete Purcel, his former New Orleans homicide partner and fellow Vietnam veteran. Purcel, a private detective, is a big and heavy man who drinks and eats to excess. Wearing a porkpie hat over his short blond hair and colorful Hawaiian shirts over his girth, he might appear comical to a casual observer, but Purcel is a dangerous, one-man wrecking crew.

Haunted by his abusive father, war memories and his violent past on both sides of the law, Purcel is self-destructive and prone to violence. But he also has a strong sense of justice and truly cares about crime victims and the oppressed. He is also loyal and protective of his few friends, Dave Robicheaux being one of them.

 “The man I came to see was Fat Tony Nemo, also known as Tony the Nose, Tony Squid, or Tony Nine Ball, the latter not because he was a pool shark but because he packed a nine ball into a bartender’s mouth with the butt of a pool cue. Of course, that was during his earlier incarnation, when he was a collector for Didoni Giacano and the two of them used to drive around New Orleans in Didi’s Caddy convertible, terrifying whoever couldn’t make the weekly vig, a bloodstained baseball bat propped up in the backseat,” Robicheaux, the narrator, informs us in the beginning of the novel. “Currently, Fat Tony was involved in politics and narcotics and porn and casinos and Hollywood movies and the concrete business.”

… Robicheaux is a provocative and powerful crime novel; gritty, atmospheric and mystical. 

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:


  1. Bravo Zulu! Fine review. I’m hurrying to the library when the book becomes available there.
    Happy New Year!