Customer Reviews for

Swan Peak (Dave Robicheaux Series #17)

Average Rating 4.5
( 40 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted April 15, 2011

    Not Quite Up To Par

    I love the Robicheaux series and was looking forward to this one but must admit I was rather disappointed. I understand an author wanting to do something different from the norm they have established for their style and character, but this formula wasn't the right one (in my opinion). The prose lacks Burke's stunningly visual - almost poetic - style, settling instead into the more journalistic "punch" that most of today's modern writers have unfortunately fallen for. Sure there were moments of brilliance (the Epilogue is quite beautiful) but overall this read like someone else's work. Also think incorporating both first and third person in the same novel was a mistake - at least for Burke. He is so strong in first person; I really feel that's his true voice. Lastly, the amount of violence in this particular book was really almost too much. I love action as much as the next guy, but the prison rape descriptions in particular were very lengthy and overdrawn. Could have gotten the point across in a more vague manner and the book wouldn't have suffered. Try A MORNING FOR FLAMINGOS to see the "real" Burke at work (that one's an amazing book!)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2012

    Beautifully written and lots of violence and memorable weirdos

    Andother great one Mr Burke.

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  • Posted October 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not Quite As Good as Last time

    I thought James Lee Burke's last Dave Robicheaux novel, The Tin Roof Blowdown, re-vitalized the series. However, moving Dave and Clete to Montana and returning to loose ends from one of Burke's best novels, Black Cherry Blues, is a misstep. The prose and descriptions are as vivid as ever but I felt the plot was a step backwards from his previous novel. Burke will probably never write a truly bad book because of his huge talent but I think it is time for a real change of pace in the Robicheaux series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2010

    A good read

    I am a Dave Robicheaux series fan - read them all. This is a good read, although I much prefer him in his native setting of Louisiana. Enjoyed the book, but found the series characters to be less intense than usual. And that intensity is what keeps drawing me back. Waiting on the next one!

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    James Lee Burke Always Surpasses his Previous Work.

    Burke's writings are nothing short of marvelous. His characters may be some very rock bottom souls but the situations in which he sets them are so well designed and studied you cannot stop reading until the book says "the end!" Swan Peak is particularly interesing in that Robicheaux does his thing in Montana. Wonderful change of situ.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    burke keeps peaking

    The twisted lives of Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel reach new depths in these peaks. Burke can scent evil and leads us deep into its inner core. I was both hooked and repelled this time, even though i knew there would be some redemption at the end. No one escapes unscarred, though.
    Burke's penchant for prose makes reading a pleasure. He captures vivid images without belaboring them. His return to Montana offers a nice break from the swamps and bayous and cesspits for Louisiana, even though it is peopled by corruption and faced with imminent pollution. The stench of New Orleans is never far away.
    This is a must-read for Burke's admirers. If you are new to Burke, though, go back and start at the beginning. To appreciate this installment in the series, you need to have been a passenger from the start.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Burke & Robicheaux Rock

    This is the first James Lee Burke book that I read. Robicheaux never takes a back seat to Reacher or Bob Lee Swagger! Plus, there's an even greater benefit. Burke is incredibly literate, turns a beautiful phrase and actually puts a lot of thought and philosophy into his writing. All in all this was a highly entertaining read and since I read this book, I went out and bought several more which I am thoroughly enjoying as well.

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  • Posted March 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    James Lee Burke is the almost certainly the best writer working today. I think he will eventually attain the same status in American letters as William Faulkner. I read all of his books.

    This presentation is terrific. Will Patton does Burke perfectly. Great stuff.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Mr. Burke's Best Yet!

    Outstanding, not one boring minute, & the characters kept me interested from beginning to end, I've real all Mr. Burke's novels and he really out did himself this time.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Dave and Cletus Take It to Them

    Although I love James Lee Burke's New Iberia setting for Dave Robicheaux et al, it was nice to find him writing from his other home region. The scenery may have changed, but Dave and Cletus have not.

    This novel felt quite different to me than most of Dave's New-Iberia-based stories. There is less magic in Burke's description of the Northwest than in his description of his beloved New Iberia parish in Louisiana. It depends on the development of the characters rather than the dark mood of the bayous, and in the odd literary manner of mixing first-person narrative with third-person, Burke manages to tell two stories in one book. Dave and Cletus, with Molly along for scarce appearances, have their reluctant investigation as one plot, but there is an astounding story of redemption in the sub-plot. I am rarely caught by surprise, but this one did it.

    The regular rough characters are present in "Swan Peak". In a Robicheaux novel, there is always an initially smooth, refined, wealthy character whose morals are rotten; a woman who flirts with people who are not her husband; a disfigured man whom no one can quite pin down as devil or flawed angel; and the background of mobsters; and Dave and Clete must visit them each many times, and this book is no different. But one of Burke's talents is making them uniquely creepy and capable of heinous acts, and deserving of their fate, however horrible it may be.

    I have to admit that each time I finish a Dave Robicheaux novel, and I've read them all, I feel tired. Not from the action, nor from the violence, but from the back and forth angst that hangs over Dave's friendship with Clete. Both men have "inner demons', which makes for great characters but frustrating moments as one scolds the other about the same sins he himself commits. Dave reprimands Clete for starting fights, then beats someone nearly to death. If it happens once or twice in the book, it makes for irony or inner conflicts. A zillion times in one story is just tiring.

    Yes, yes, I know it is there for underlying tension and exposing the nerves that are always just on top of the boys' skins, but I would like to see Burke break out of that mold just once and have Dave and Clete on the same page throughout the book. Just once. You could call it a black-comedy-caper, Mr. Burke. Then go back to the angst-ridden, demon-inhabiting, nail-biting relationship they have.

    If that part of each Robicheaux novel makes me grind my teeth, the rest of it is music to the soul. Burke has a way with his prose that sometimes makes me read an entire paragraph twice before moving on. His elegance makes up for any frustration I feel caught between the two protagonists.

    So let Dave and Cletus bicker and rage at one another. If that's the only way I can have my Robicheaux novels, then I'll take it.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    The Best Robicheaux Yet.

    A relaxing vacation away from New Orleans? Hardly! But it is perhaps the richest and most complexly rewarding in the series. Mr. Burke never fails to challenge his readers to think about where not only his characters are going but where the readers want them to go.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2008

    Great New Robicheaux Novel

    JLB is by far my favorite author and paired with narration by Will Patton is phenomenal. The book literally comes to life. What a pair!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2008

    Open for discussion: Did Burke write this book?

    JLB is flat out my favorite author. That said I'm wondering if I just read a Burke novel or not. His favorite plot devices and stable of characters are all here but there's something about the style that doesn't sound right. The narrative just doesn't seem the same as his other books. Hey, what's Alafair Burke been doing the last couple of months?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2008

    Everyhting You expect From Burke

    Once again, James Lee Burke forces the reader to look in the mirror as he takes his flawed protagonist down a fractured and violent highway of the inner soul.

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  • Posted January 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Swan Peak Blowdown

    After Burke's last novel, I really looked forward to this one, putting it right on the top of my books to read. The good news is I have one less book on the pile, the bad news is that Burke's latest doesn't match up to Tin Roof. He likes complicated characters and situations, moral dilemmas and areas so gray even the pope couldn't sort them out. But what he left out in this one was interest. I was just a little bored, waiting for it to take off. Still I recommend it because Burke can write some pretty good scenes. In this case, they're just surrounded by too much yapping.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2008

    Burke at the Peak of his powers

    Swan Peak is a 'pseudo-sequel' to Black Cherry Blues, the Edgar Award-winning third Dave Robicheaux novel. Like that previous book, it takes place in Montana, where Robicheaux, his wife Molly and longtime friend Clete Purcel go for a fishing trip partly meant to help them escape the devastation of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina (which was powerfully and sadly evoked in The Tin Roof Blowdown.) The fishing party are the guests of Albert Hollister, one of wealthy oil man Ridley Wellstone's many enemies, with whom Dave and Clete must soon contend after inadvertantly trespassing on his property. After being warned away by two thugs Clete is recognized by one of the men - a former associate of Mob Boss Sally Dio - as the man who engineered Dio's demise in a Montana plane crash (see Black Cherry Blues.) Things get more complicated when two college students are found murdered near Hollister's land the emnity between Hollister and Wellstone makes the oil tycoon a possible suspect and Dave is recruited by the local authorities to help investigate. Meanwhile Clete becomes dangerously infatuated with Wellstone's sister-in-law, a beautiful country singer who's being stalked by a former lover who is himself on the run he escaped from a Texas prison after nearly killing a brutally violent guard named Troyce Nix. When Nix comes to Montana in pursuit, Robicheaux first sees him at a revival meeting put on by the shady Rev. Sonny Click (who may have Wellstone connections) and immediately pegs him as a menace despite being unaware of the ex-military man's disgraceful involvement at Abu Graib. All of this might sound confusing here, but Burke combines the intertwining storylines so smoothly that it's easy to appreciate his masterfully graceful prose, as well as his poetic eye for detail in both landscape and character. Nobody writes crime novels like James Lee Burke, and Swan Peak shows he is at the peak of his considerable powers. Also recommended: A Stranger Lies There - winner of the Malice Domestic Award for best first mystery, it features a vividly rendered desert backdrop that should please fans of James Lee Burke's colorful Montana and Louisiana settings.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    one of the best continuing series on the market

    New Orleans PI Clete Purcel is fishing on what he thought was a Montana state park. Two men arrive stating he is on private property, the Wellstone Ranch, owned by Texas gazillionaire oilman Ridley Wellstone. He recognizes one of them as Lyle Hobbs, former driver for the late mob boss Sally Dee, who died in a plane crash years ago. Before leaving, the Wellstone security drive over Clete¿s fishing gear and warn him the state pond is five miles away.------------ Clete, his former police partner New Iberia, Louisiana sheriff's deputy Dave Robicheaux and the latter¿s wife Molly are in Big Sky Country at the invitation of novelist Albert Hollister. Dave and Clete hope Montana would help them come to grips with Katrina. However, soon after the fishing incident, someone murders a University of Montana coed and her boyfriend near the cabins Albert gave to his southern visitors to use. That is followed by a violent chase out of the Fugitive TV show/movie when a Texas prison guard chases an escaped convict. Dave and Clete know they should mind their business, but neither ever could.------------ Changing location from Katrina wracked Louisiana to pristine Montana does not lessen the violence as nasty predators reside in both states. Clete and Dave seek R&R in this case respite and redemption as each wonders if they could have done more during the Hurricane and its immediate aftermath. However, catching mean SOBs and rescuing innocents do not relieve the soul friendship and love do. James Lee Burke provides a strong tale in one of the best continuing series on the market.------------ Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

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    Posted July 8, 2009

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    Posted July 11, 2011

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