Cadillac Jukebox (Dave Robicheaux Series #9)

( 2 )


No one was surprised when Aaron Crown was arrested for the decades-old murder of the most famous black civil rights leader in Louisiana. After all, his family were shiftless timber people who brought their ways into the Cajun wetlands—trailing rumors of ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Only Dave Robicheaux, to whom Crown proclaims his innocence, worries that Crown had been made a scapegoat for the collective guilt of a generation.

But when Buford LaRose, scion of an old Southern family...

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Cadillac Jukebox

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No one was surprised when Aaron Crown was arrested for the decades-old murder of the most famous black civil rights leader in Louisiana. After all, his family were shiftless timber people who brought their ways into the Cajun wetlands—trailing rumors of ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Only Dave Robicheaux, to whom Crown proclaims his innocence, worries that Crown had been made a scapegoat for the collective guilt of a generation.

But when Buford LaRose, scion of an old Southern family and author of a book that sent Crown to prison, is elected governor, strange things start to happen. Dave is offered a job as head of the state police; a documentary filmmaker seeking to prove Crown's innocence is killed; and the governor's wife—a former flame—once again turns her seductive powers on Dave. It's clear that Dave must find out the dark truth about Aaron Crown, a truth that too many people want to remain hidden.

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Editorial Reviews

People Magazine
"Cadillac Jukebox is pure Burke--equal parts hardboiled action, lush descriptions of the natural world, and dialogue that leaps from the page."
Philadelphia Inquirer
"Terrific reading. Few writers in America can evoke a region as well as Burke."
"If you haven't read Burke, get going."
From the Publisher
"Cadillac Jukebox is pure Burke—equal parts hardboiled action, lush descriptions of the natural world, and dialogue that leaps from the page."—People Magazine

"Terrific reading. Few writers in America can evoke a region as well as Burke."—Philadelphia Inquirer

"If you haven't read Burke, get going."—Playboy

Elizabeth Pincus

A prince of the non sequitur, crime novelist James Lee Burke weaves fragments of dialogue into a poetry of machismo, as if real standup guys can't be bothered with the mundane etiquette of conversation. The effect is one of lucid beauty, a staccato shorthand owing equal debt to Hemingway and Hammett. In Cadillac Jukebox, Burke's quixotic detective Dave Robicheaux is hellbent on retribution, so caution is more expendable than usual. When his superior in the New Iberia Sheriff's Office orders him to Mexico to look up "a priest in some shithole down in the interior," Robicheaux asks, "We have money for this?" The reply: "Bring me a sombrero."

Offsetting such terse interaction is Burke's luxurious prose. Sending Robicheaux on a slow drive through that dead nowhere zone south of the border, Burke writes, "The sun rose higher in an empty cobalt sky. We crossed a flat plain with sloughs and reeds by the roadside and stone mountains razored against the horizon and Indian families who seemed to have walked enormous distances from no visible site in order to beg by the road. . . We passed an abandoned iron works dotted with broken windows, and went through villages where the streets were no more than crushed rock and the doors to all the houses were painted either green or blue."

Like his contemporary Walter Mosley, Burke is invigorating the crime fiction series at a time when many of the genre's heavy hitters -- Grafton, Parker -- have grown lazy and stale. Cadillac Jukebox is Burke's ninth outing with Robicheaux, a survivor of Vietnam, the bottle and more than a few personal tragedies. Here Robicheaux stumbles into a bloody mess involving mobbed-up denizens of the Louisiana bayou, the 30-year-old murder of a cherished civil rights leader, a long-ago betrayal of teenage love and an oily southern liberal with his eye on the governor's office. If Robicheaux's honor is sketched a tad too preciously, at least his interior life is of equal weight to the chaos raining around him. Robicheaux is a moral force as rugged as they come, even or especially when the proverbial quest for justice falls short of its goal. -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW gave a starred review to this story of revenge, ambition and blackmail, the ninth Dave Robicheaux mystery. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Is Dave Robicheaux mellowing with old age? Burke's latest addition to his popular series featuring the bayou detective (e.g., Burning Angel, Hyperion, 1995) is a formulaic romp with all the elements fans have come to expect: A convoluted plot fueled by violent but excruciatingly polite characters, racial sins of the past that bedevil the residents of the New South, wonderful dialog with occasional indecipherable street slang, and numerous descriptions of mouth-watering Cajun food. Robicheaux, who here suspects that the alleged killer of a revered Civil Rights figure is innocent, is opposed on all fronts, most aggressively by a liberal candidate for governer of Louisiana and the candidate's sexy but dangerous wife. Robicheaux is strangely low-key, however, and readers who expect the traditional violent outburst wherein Robicheaux kicks the stuffing out of some deserving creep will be puzzled by his seemingly minor role in the action. An anticlimactic ending further diminishes the novel's appeal. Still, Burke has built a huge fan base and larger public libraries should probably stock a copy. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/95.]Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
Bill Ott
"I think I've learned not to grieve on the world's ways, at least not when spring is at hand." That is the last sentence a regular reader of James Lee Burke's masterful Dave Robicheaux novels would expect to hear from the mouth of the series' Cajun police detective hero. After all, the central theme in all the novels in the series up to this point has been Robicheaux's obstinate, heroic, yet arrogant insistence on not only grieving but violently rejecting the world's ways. The tension in these novels has always come from Robicheaux's determined adherence, in the face of overwhelming external pressure, to the simple pleasures of the Cajun way of life--food, family, close contact with the elemental rhythms of the southern Louisiana bayou. In fact, that tension was so inevitable, so finally predictable, that the previous installment or two, while as technically accomplished as any of their predecessors, had begun to seem somehow diminished. That all changes here, as Robicheaux, faced again with a crime that has far-reaching personal and symbolic meaning, must accept the erosion of his world and thereby learn to cherish the transitory moments that memory and human connection continue to offer him It all starts with the escape from prison of a white-trash dirt farmer convicted of killing a black civil-rights activist. The ensuing reverberations affect everything from Louisiana gubernatorial politics to Robicheaux's marriage, but at the heart of the conflict is the detective's battle with his own personal demons: Will this case offer yet another opportunity to lose control, to jeopardize loved ones in an effort to take a stand against onrushing modernity? The answer is yes and no, but in that refreshing ambiguity--hopeful yet melancholic--lies a remarkable rebirth for a series that, unlike so many others, has managed to absorb commercial success without sacrificing quality.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786889181
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 8/28/1997
  • Series: Dave Robicheaux Series, #9
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 181,143
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke was born in Houston, Texas, in 1936 and grew up on the Texas-Louisiana gulf coast. He attended Southwestern Louisiana Institute and later received a B. A. Degree in English and an M. A. from the University of Missouri in 1958 and 1960 respectively. Over the years he worked as a landman for Sinclair Oil Company, pipeliner, land surveyor, newspaper reporter, college English professor, social worker on Skid Row in Los Angeles, clerk for the Louisiana Employment Service, and instructor in the U. S. Job Corps.

He and his wife Pearl met in graduate school and have been married 48 years, they have four children: Jim Jr., an assistant U.S. Attorney; Andree, a school psychologist; Pamala, a T. V. ad producer; and Alafair, a law professor and novelist who has 4 novels out with Henry Holt publishing.

Burke's work has been awarded an Edgar twice for Best Crime Novel of the Year. He has also been a recipient of a Breadloaf and Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEA grant. Two of his novels, Heaven's Prisoners and Two For Texas, have been made into motion pictures. His short stories have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, New Stories from the South, Best American Short Stories, Antioch Review, Southern Review, and The Kenyon Review. His novel The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111 times over a period of nine years, and upon publication by Louisiana State University press was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Today he and his wife live in Missoula, Montana, and New Iberia, Louisiana.

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    1. Hometown:
      New Iberia, Louisiana and Missoula, Montana
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 5, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Houston, Texas
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Missouri, 1959; M.A., University of Missouri, 1960
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great book

    If you've never read the Dave Robicheaux detective series, you need to start. I started with the first in the series and ready for number 10. Burke has developed such a wonderfully flawed character in Robicheaux - he's human and we can all see ourselves at times through him. Burke's writing style is prose - you read a description of what's taking place, and you're there. And Dave's friend Clete is a "piece of work", but his character grows on you with each book. Read Burke....he's wonderful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

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