Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke
Boston : Little, Brown and Company, 1989. Signed by James Lee Burke. First Edition. Hardcover. 290 pages ; 25 cm. $17.95 dust jacket with minimal wear. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
"A first-class detective adventure, as tough and suspenseful as you please. It is set down in some very believable places — Cajun Louisiana and the northern Rockies — with some very believable people, whose dialogue rings sharp and true. Burke knows what he is doing. I've not read anything as good since Raymond Chandler set down Philip Marlowe in Los Angeles."— Walker Percy
In this masterful novel James Lee Burke proves himself both a brilliant storyteller and a prose stylist who ranks with the best in America. The third in a series featuring ex-New Orleans cop Dave Robicheaux, Black Cherry Blues sweeps from the lush, misty bayou country of southern Louisiana to the rugged landscape of Montana, where Robicheaux confronts Indians, oil company roughnecks, Mafia honchos, and a woman he could grow to love.
Vietnam vet, widower, recovering alcoholic, father to an adopted Salvadoran child, James Lee Burke's hero is a tough, compassionate man with a keen sense of his own internal contradictions. Haunted by the specters of his wife, gunned down in her bed by hit men looking to destroy him, and his father, an illiterate Cajun who was killed by a blowout on an oil rig, Robicheaux finds his days in a fish-and-tackle business shadowed by demons from his past that make him wonder how long he can keep "mortality and memory at bay. Always the racetrack gambler, trying to intuit and control the future."
When Dave's former college roommate Dixie Lee Pugh, has-been rockabilly star, makes a surprise appearance, Robicheaux is thrust into an escalating chain of events that takes him back, ironically, to the offices of the very oil company that once employed his father. In coming to the aid of an old friend he entangles himself in a violent world he'd sworn to forsake, a world of ruthless Mafia goons, wily federal agents, and the continuing blandishments of the "water spirits" who speak to him from a place where an unerring peace holds sway.
It is Dave Robicheaux's heroism — both in the rough-and-tumble world and inside himself — that gives Black Cherry Blues unusual depth, range, and impact. Here is a smashing story that combines muscular, dynamic prose, top-notch plotting, and a mastery of dialogue and characterization encountered all too infrequently in contemporary fiction.
James Lee Burke has worked in the oil field and on the pipeline, and at one time was a landman for Sinclair Oil Company. He is the author of seven previous books, including two novels featuring the detective Dave Robicheaux, The Neon Rain and Heaven's Prisoners. His short stories have appeared in such periodicals as the Atlantic, the Southern Review, and the Kenyan Review, and in the collection Best American Short Stories. He lives part of the year outside Missoula, Montana, and teaches creative writing at Wichita State University, in Kansas.
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