Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux Series #3)

Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux Series #3)

4.3 33
by James Lee Burke

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At the center of Burning Angel is Sonny Boy Marsallus, a fixer, a gambler, a lender of money to prostitutes who are trying to leave the life. But since Prohibition, the Giacano family has locked up the action in New Orleans and its surrounding parishes. When things get hot for Sonny Boy, he hightails it south of the border for parts unknown in El Salvador and…  See more details below


At the center of Burning Angel is Sonny Boy Marsallus, a fixer, a gambler, a lender of money to prostitutes who are trying to leave the life. But since Prohibition, the Giacano family has locked up the action in New Orleans and its surrounding parishes. When things get hot for Sonny Boy, he hightails it south of the border for parts unknown in El Salvador and Guatemala. When Sonny resurfaces in New Orleans, Detective Dave Robicheaux of the Iberia Parish sheriff's office couldn't be more surprised - that is, not until Sonny passes him a mysterious notebook for safekeeping that seems to contain dark secrets about his activities in Latin America. Robicheaux must wrestle with secrets closer to home as well when his help is enlisted by the Fontenot family, descendants of sharecroppers, whose claim to land they've lived on for almost one hundred years is jeopardized. Who wants the land so badly? And what of the longtime, clandestine affair between Moleen Bertrand, lord of the manor, and Ruthie Jean Fontenot, now reputed to be a local madam? As Dave determines to find out who's honing in on the Bertrand spread, he puts himself in increasing peril at the hands of local mobsters and a hired assassin with a shady past that intersects with that of Sonny Boy Marsallus.

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Editorial Reviews

San Jose Mercury News
Pulsating Adventure.
Detroit Free Press
Wonderful writing...Don't miss this book. It's one of the years best.
Library Journal
Burke brings back Dave Robicheaux in this gripping sequel to Heaven's Prisoners ( LJ 4/1/88). Dave, a former homicide cop, is trying to run his fishing business, care for six-year-old-orphan Alafair, and come to terms with the violent death of his wife, Annie. A chance encounter with an old friend haunted by a troubling secret sets off a chain of events that leaves Dave framed for murder. Desperate to prove his innocence and protect Alafair, Robicheaux is forced to conduct his own investigation. Robicheaux is a complex and very believable character, battling alcoholism, haunted by his wife's death, struggling to hold onto his Catholic faith. Surrounded by violence, he is a man of integrity trying to find an honorable way out. As such he should appeal to fans of Travis McGee and readers of well-crafted suspense. Skillfully evoked settings add to the book's appeal. Highly recommended.-- Beth Ann Mills, New Rochelle P.L., N.Y.
Jonathan Yardley
Burke is off on a chase that is at once engrossing and...convincing. -- Washington Post
Lewis Beale
Burke's writing crackles with style and authority. -- New York Daily News

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Dave Robicheaux Series, #3
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

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Chapter One

HER hair is curly and gold on the pillow, her skin white in the heat lightning that trembles beyond the pecan trees outside the bedroom window. The night is hot and breathless, the clouds painted like horsetails against the sky; a peal of thunder rumbles out an the Gulf like an apple rolling around in the bottom of a wood barrel, and the first raindrops ping against the window fan. She sleeps on her side, and the sheet molds her thigh, the curve of her hip, her breast. In the flicker of the heat lightning the sun freckles on her bare shoulder look like brown flaws in sculpted marble.

Then a prizing bar splinters the front door out of the jamb, and two men burst inside the house in heavy shoes, their pump shotguns at port arms. One is a tall Haitian, the other a Latin whose hair hangs off his head in oiled ringlets. They stand at the foot of the double bed in which she sleeps alone, and do not speak. She awakes with her mouth open, her eyes wide and empty of meaning. Her face is still warm from a dream, and she cannot separate sleep from the two men who stare at her without speaking. Then she sees them looking at each other and aim their shotguns point-blank at her chest. Her eyes film and she calls out my name like a wet bubble bursting in her throat. The sheet is twisted in her hands; she holds it against her breasts as though it could protect her from twelve-gauge deer slugs and double-aught buckshot.

They begin shooting, and the room seems to explode with smoke and flame from their shotgun barrels, with shell wadding, mattress stuffing, splinters gouged out of the bedstead, torn lampshades, flying glass. The two killers aremethodical. They have taken out the sportsman's plug in their shotguns so they can load five rounds in the magazine, and they keep firing and ejecting the smoking hulls an the floor until their firing pins snap empty. Then they reload with the calmness of men who might have juststood up in a blind and fired at a formation of ducks overhead.

The sheet is torn, drenched with her blood, embedded in her wounds. The men have gone now, and I sink to my, knees by my wife and kiss her sightless eyes, run my hands over her hair and wan face, put her fingers in my mouth. A solitary drop of her blood runs down the shattered headboard and pools on my skin. A bolt of lightning explodes in an empty field behind the house. The inside of my head is filled with a wet, sulphurous smell, and again I hear my name rise like muffled, trapped air released from the sandy bottom of a pond.

It was four in the morning on a Saturday and raining hard when I awoke from the dream in a West Baton Rouge motel. I sat on the side of the bed in my underwear and tried to rub the dream out of my face, then I used the bathroom and came back and sat on the side ofthe bed again in the dark.

First light was still two hours away, but I knew I would not sleep again. I put on my raincoat and hat and drove in my pickup truck to an all-night café that occupied one side of a clapboard roadhouse. The rain clattered on my truck cab, and the wind was blowing strong Out of the southwest, across the Atchafalaya swamp, whipping the palm and Oak trees by the highway. West Baton Rouge, which begins at the Mississippi River, has always been a seedy area of truck stops, marginal gambling joints, Negro and blue-collar bars. To the east you can see the lighted girders of the Earl K. Long Bridge, plumes of smoke rising from the oil refineries, the state capitol building silhouetted in the rain. Baton Rouge is a green town full of oak trees, parks, and lakes, and the thousands of lights on the refineries and chemical plants are regarded as a testimony to financial security rather than a sign of industrial blight. But once you drive west across the metal grid of the bridge and thump down on the old cracked four-lane, you're in a world that caters to the people of the Atchafalaya basin -- Cajuns, redbones, roustabouts, pipeliners, rednecks whose shrinking piece of American geography is identified only by a battered pickup, a tape deck playing Waylon, and a twelve-pack of Jax.

The rain spun in the yellow arc lights over the café parking lot. It was empty inside, except for a fat Negro woman whom I could see through the service window in the kitchen, and a pretty, redheaded waitress in her early twenties, dressed in a pink uniform with her hair tied up on her freckled neck. She was obviously tired, but she was polite and smiled at me when she took my order, and I felt a sense of guilt, almost shame, at my susceptibility and easy fondness for a young woman's smile. Because if you're forty-nine and unmarried or a widower or if you've simply chosen to live alone, you're easily flattered by a young woman's seeming attention to you, and you forget that it is often simply a deference to your age.

I ordered a chicken-fried steak and a cup of coffee and listened to Jimmy Clanton's recording of "Just a Dream" that came from the jukebox next door. Through the open doorway that gave onto the empty dance floor, I could see a half-dozen people at the bar against the far wall. I watched a man my age, with waved blond hair, drink his

I whiskey down to the ice, point to the glass for the bartender to refill it, then rise from...

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Black Cherry Blues (Dave Robicheaux Series #3) 4.3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 33 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A friend suggested I read Burke's books a few months ago, so I'm just 'new' to the Robicheaux series...I started with the first book of the series and I will read them all. Robicheaux can't help himself, he's so human, complex, devout in his faith, compassionate, but just don't mess with him - you have to like him. And in all the drama and chaos in Robicheaux's life Burke writes so beautifully and describes every minute detail, is so descriptive of the human element and nature's surroundings at the same time. When Burke describes the dreams of Robicheaux, the fishing camps, his past, the countryside - its the best I've ever read. I couldn't put the book down. Burke tells a good, suspensful drama.
Guest More than 1 year ago
James Lee Burke is by far one of the best authors I have ever read. His descriptive narrative is so wonderful that you can almost smell, see, and taste everything his characters experience. From this book I was hooked, and with each book, it only gets better!
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
This trade paperback reprint brings back an early Dave Robicheaux novel (first published in 1989) in which he travels from his native Louisiana to Montana to escape his guilt over the murder of his wife. Of course, the familiar territory is covered: his attendance at AA meetings, care for an adopted refugee girl from El Salvador, among other things. A land-hungry oil company is pitted against the interests of a Blackfoot reservation, and when two American Indian activists disappear, Dave’s investigation puts him squarely in the sights of mafia thugs and the oil interests. Also, he enters into a romance with Darlene American Horse, his ex-partner’s girlfriend. The broad sweep of the story helps Dave relieve the demons of his grief, loss, fear, rage and need for vengeance. And the author shows how graphically and wonderfully he can write about the broad vistas of Montana’s red cliffs and tree-line hills, as well as the accustomed bayous of Louisiana, and the multi-ethnic aspects of the United States. Recommended.
WaukeshaPhoenix More than 1 year ago
This man can really write. Can't tell you how many times I've been disappointed in books I've started, finding the writing amateurish, or the characters hollow. Mr. Burke PUTS you there, be it Louisiana, or in this one, Montana, with all the sights, smells, sounds, and sensations. His characters are fascinating, whether good guys or bad. This book is the best one so far, so I will be excited to start the next.
SamiO More than 1 year ago
If you have ever visited Louisiana, before or after Katrina and her tag along, this Author will keep you coming back for more and more and more. No where have descriptions caused me to buy so many books! He is a master of description and his characters are more than true to life. I salute you, James Lee Burke. My husband and I are planning a trip to New Orleans and most of the other places you speak of in you books. He lived there, I have visited many times. I wish I had read your books... too many years ago, to have done so... but I would really have enjoyed my visits more. Thank you. cm
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Burke's books are good, but SOOOO long!  And the angst!  Burke and Robert B Parker had to have a corner on soul-searching.   It's a good book, but my eyes have writers cramp, and the tedium of the self analysis almost overwhelms me at times.  I'll probably keep on reading these books, but I won't buy them.
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RichardSutton More than 1 year ago
<b>Ghosts, Flaws, Weakness and Gumbo. Enough to go around.</b> I began at the end of the series, and have finally gotten back to the beginning. For readers new to James Lee Burke, it's not an absolute necessity, but for this reader, it make the overall meal much tastier. If you like your Main Characters cut from whole human being cloth, you will not find many who do it better than Mr. Burke. Dave Robicheaux is so fully formed, you'll swear you shared a joke with him last week at the bait shop. The folks he loves, the ones he misses, the ones he wished he was missing, are all equally defined and equally annoying at times. They are all combating scores of personal, very understandable demons and have nevertheless gotten themselves into predictable, poor situations and relationships that serve them anyway but well. The writing is crisp and the plot carries the reader along on one absorbing journey after another. That's another consummate skill of this storyteller -- in a very few words, Burke can transport a reader into a setting so completely you can hear the crickets outside. If South Louisiana is a favorite destination for you, or also in this case, the Northern Rockies in Montana, you'll find few other writers who can capture the milieu more completely. As far as the characters who slide and do battle across these pages, you'll remember each and every one -- no toss-away people in these stories. Redemption is as redemption does. It comes for some and not for others, just like life. Reading Burke for me has become a vacation taken inexpensively, when necessary. Plan to visit yourself, soon, y'hear?
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BECBEC61 More than 1 year ago
Loved It!!! Great Read!!!
Goofygirll More than 1 year ago
If you like this series I would recommend this one too. It is just as good as the rest have been. I am now one the 4th in the series and will continue reading them.
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