Wednesday, April 1, 2020

My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux Crime Series

The Washington Times published my On Crime column about James Lee Burke and his popular fictional character Dave Robicheaux.

I was pleased to learn that James Lee Burke has a new crime novel coming out in May.

According to his publisher Simon & Schuster, James Lee Burke’s “A Private Cathedral” is his most powerful story. The novel mixes crime, romance, mythology, horror and science fiction, as well as the all-consuming and all-conquering power of love.

“A Private Cathedral” is his 40th book and his 23rd novel featuring Dave Robicheaux, a rugged and principled Cajun and New Iberia, Louisiana Sheriff’s Department detective.

I’ve reviewed several of his novels in these pages, including his last novel, “The New Iberia Blues.” The novel was a sequel to his previous novel, “Robicheaux,” and the upcoming “A Private Cathedral” is the third novel in his trilogy.

In “The New Iberia Blues” Dave Robicheaux visits a Hollywood director who returns to Louisiana to direct a film. Robicheaux knew the director when he was a New Orleans detective and the director, Desmond Cormier, was a street artist. When Robicheaux looked through Cormier’s telescope he sees the horrific sight of a young woman floating in the bay while nailed to a wooden cross. The novel, like all of James Lee Burke’s novels, offers violent conflict, sinister criminals and sad victims. I suspect “A Private Cathedral” will continue in the same vein.  

Although I disagree somewhat with his worldview, I believe the 83-year-old author is one of the best modern crime novelists and his character Dave Robicheaux (pronounced “Row-bih-show”) is one of the best detective characters in crime fiction today. His novels are superbly well-written, and they offer gritty realism with a strong moral tone. The popular series has been translated into nearly every language on the planet.

James Lee Burke is a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and a two-time recipient of its Edgar Award. He’s also the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Fiction. Born in Houston in 1936, James Lee Burke grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. He attended Southwestern Louisiana Institute for two years and graduated with honors from the University of Missouri.

He’s worked a good number of different jobs prior to becoming a full-time novelist. He’s worked as a social worker, an oil man, a newspaper reporter and a teacher, which gives him a wide breadth of knowledge of the human condition, which is evident in his work.

Mr. Burke is passionate about the environment, especially in Louisiana, and the blight of the oppressed. In his novels, he has Dave Robicheaux attempt to right wrongs, defend the innocent and punish the greedy, the crooked and the predators who prey on the innocent. 

You can read the rest of the column below or via the below link:

You can also read my Washington Times review of The New Iberia Blues via the below link:

And you can read my Washington Times review of Robicheaux via the below link: 

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