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Creole Belle: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (Hardcover)
Many of his (James Lee Burke) fans feared that The Glass Rainbow was the end of the Robicheaux series. I admit that it was ambiguous but, had he chosen to end the books there, I thought it would’ve been a fitting ending.
You can quit stewing over the end of that book because, in Creole Belle, the Bobbsey Twins of Homicide are back in the saddle, takin’ it to the bad guys with a full-tilt boogie. Though they’re still recovering from their wounds suffered out on the edge of the bayou, and both still hear the paddle wheeler in the water nearby, they’ve not slowed down much in their war on evil. In this story they mix it up with forgers, Nazis, racists, femme fatales and the monied elite who seem to feel that the plantation system never died. In other words, it is business as usual along Bayou Teche. Then there is that massive oil spill coloring and despoiling their world.
James Lee Burke's talent hasn’t slowed either and Creole Belle keeps up his normal, furious pace. The action moves from New Iberia to New Orleans, back to St. Mary Parrish and out into the edges of the state as Dave searches for a missing Creole singer and the killer of her sister. Both he and Clete deal with ghosts from the past and present, Clete moreso than in the earlier books but nearly dying in a shootout with your best friend will do that to you. Both are doubting their past actions and even their sanity. “I tried to think and couldn’t. Everything happening around me seemed fragmented and incoherent but part of a larger pattern, like a sheet of stained glass thrown upon a flagstone.”
Besides the stunning writing, the joy in the book comes from the women in the story – Varina, the beautiful but dangerous woman calling Clete to the rocks; Tee Jolie, the singer who calls to Dave from the dark; Helen – Dave’s boss – who though at her wit’s ends with Dave and Clete cannot dismiss Dave’s instincts; Alafair, now a publihsed author whose insights help nudge Dave in the right direction and is not above fighting injustice with her fists; and the mysterious Gretchen… Can’t say anything more about her but she’s the heart of the book, even more than Dave himself. And wait ‘til you get to the scene of Alafair and Gretchen at the used car lot. Priceless!
Burke is a master and an American treasure, as Creole Belle once again demonstrates.
“Almost year-round, the air was warm and smelled of salt and rain and tropical flowers from all over the world. The winter was not really winter at all, and theirin may lie Key West’s greatest charm. If one does not have to brood upon the coming of winter and the shortening of the days and the fading of the light, then perhaps one does not have to brood upon the coming of death. When the season is gentle and unthreatening and seems to renew itself daily, we come to believe that spring and the long days of summer may be eternal after all. When we see the light trapped high in the sky on a summer evening, it is possible we are looking through an aperture at our future rather than at a sesonal phenomenon? Is it possible that the big party is just beginning?"
With Dave and Clete, the party is always roiling.
Can’t wait for it to come around again.— JB
"America's best novelist" James Lee Burke returns with another New York Times bestselling entry in the Dave Robicheaux thriller series (The Denver Post).
Set against the events of the Gulf Coast oil spill, rife with "the menaces of greed and violence and man-made horror" (The Christian Science Monitor), Creole Belle finds Dave Robicheaux languishing in a New Orleans recovery unit since surviving a bayou shoot-out. The detective's body is healing; it's his morphine-addled mind that conjures spectral visions of Tee Jolie Melton, a young woman who in reality has gone missing. An iPod with an old blues song left by his bedside turns Robicheaux into a man obsessed...And as oil companies assign blame after an epic disaster threatens the Gulf's very existence, Robicheaux unearths connections between tragedies both global and personal--and faces down forces that can corrupt and destroy the best of men.
About the Author
James Lee Burke is the author of thirty previous novels and two collections of short stories, including the New York Times bestsellers The Glass Rainbow and Feast Day of Fools. He lives in Missoula, Montana.
“Burke is the reigning champ of nostalgia noir. . . . To be sure, the destruction of a pristine natural environment is a thematic staple of the regional crime novel, but nobody can touch Burke in the lyrical expression of howling grief. . . . [Creole Belle is] a novel that shows how the sins of the fathers poison the ground their children walk on.”—The New York Times Book Review
“I think [James Lee] Burke is the best fiction writer in the country.”—Bill O’Reilly
“All the characters . . . are superbly drawn, and the plot is heart-pounding . . . sure to be embraced by author James Lee Burke's fans.”—The Washington Post
“Burke, 75, creates lyrical mysteries with what can only be described as deceptive ease. Whether it’s Robicheaux, stand-alone novels, or separate series starring Texas cousins Billy Bob and Hackberry Holland, the themes remain constant. Every novel Burke writes delves into moral ambiguity, the menaces of greed and violence, the degradation of people and land, the juxtaposition of natural beauty and man-made horror and, finally, the sublime joy of human love and loyalty.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“Burke never goes wrong with his exquisite gift for taking us into the heart of Louisiana, its wetlands, small towns, the glory of old New Orleans and, as always, its checkered history. Combined with some of the finest characters ever to grace a page, that makes any Robicheaux novel a joy to read.”
“Like its 18 predecessors in Burke’s series, Creole Belle is a work of dark and radiant brilliance.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Reading James Lee Burke is a religious experience. …Creole Belle may be one of Burke's best; it is certainly one of his most complex. . . . Intense doesn't begin to describe a Burke story . . . Biblical . . . now that about does it.”—San Antonio Express
“The plot is fast-moving and thriller-tough, the bodies mount quickly, and the writing is lyrical and evocative . . . as laced with complications as the canals crosscutting Robicheaux's beloved, threatened wetlands.”—New Orleans Times-Picayune
"If all novelists were as thoughtful and nuanced as James Lee Burke, we could finally put to rest those groundless prejudices against genre fiction . . . the [Dave Robicheaux] books are works of dark art. At their unflinching best, they examine the cost of violence, even when it's performed in the name of justice, and the haunted worlds inhabited by those resigned to limping through life with a blood-soaked conscience."