Purple Cane Road
Dave Robicheaux thought the worst of his past was over years ago when he was as an active alcoholic, but when a pimp tells him he knows something about the murder of Dave's mother back in the late 1960’s, Robicheaux is sent down a road of drugs, prostitution, and dirty cops which seems to have no end, and a trail which draws in even the attorney general and governor of Louisiana. Fortunately, much of the violence takes place offstage, where characters with names like Zipper Clum and Little Face Dautrieve carve each other up, but the violence threatens Dave and wife Bootsie when a hit man starts to stalk their adopted daughter Alafair. The unrelieved tension in James Lee Burke’s mystery is exactly what readers have come to expect from Burke. “It's the violence,” Dave confesses to Bootsie. “Nobody should have to live around it.” The Robicheaux family does, and readers will enjoy it from a safe distance.
The elements that put Burke a cut above most contemporary crime writers are his settings and language. Dave works as a homicide investigator and runs a boat-rental and bait business on the bayou south of New Iberia, outside of New Orleans, and the muggy Louisiana atmosphere adds to the tension. Burke is also adept at capturing the dialect of his characters, sprinkled as it is with words like “loupgarou,” “juju,” and “boudin.” The language, like the setting, defines another first-rate Dave Robicheaux mystery.