The Tin Roof Blowdown (Dave Robicheaux Series #16)

The Tin Roof Blowdown (Dave Robicheaux Series #16)

4.1 51
by James Lee Burke

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In the waning days of summer, 2005, a storm with greater impact than the bomb that struck Hiroshima peels the face off southern Louisiana.

This is the gruesome reality Iberia Parish Sheriff's Detective Dave Robicheaux discovers as he is deployed to New Orleans. As James Lee Burke's new novel, The Tin Roof Blowdown, begins, Hurricane Katrina has

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In the waning days of summer, 2005, a storm with greater impact than the bomb that struck Hiroshima peels the face off southern Louisiana.

This is the gruesome reality Iberia Parish Sheriff's Detective Dave Robicheaux discovers as he is deployed to New Orleans. As James Lee Burke's new novel, The Tin Roof Blowdown, begins, Hurricane Katrina has left the commercial district and residential neighborhoods awash with looters and predators of every stripe. The power grid of the city has been destroyed, New Orleans reduced to the level of a medieval society. There is no law, no order, no sanctuary for the infirm, the helpless, and the innocent. Bodies float in the streets and lie impaled on the branches of flooded trees. In the midst of an apocalyptical nightmare, Robicheaux must find two serial rapists, a morphine-addicted priest, and a vigilante who may be more dangerous than the criminals looting the city.

In a singular style that defies genre, James Lee Burke has created a hauntingly bleak picture of life in New Orleans after Katrina. Filled with complex characters and depictions of people at both their best and worst, The Tin Roof Blowdown is not only an action-packed crime thriller, but a poignant story of courage and sacrifice that critics are already calling Burke's best work.

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Editorial Reviews

In post-Katrina New Orleans, Detective Dave Robicheaux is up to his knees in troubles of all kinds. Once again, James Lee Burke enmeshes his protagonist in a setting so palpably real that we almost feel like assistants in his searches.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date:
Dave Robicheaux Series, #16
Edition description:
Abridged, 5 CDs, 6 hours
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 5.86(h) x 1.05(d)

Read an Excerpt


My worst dreams have always contained images of brown water and fields of elephant grass and the downdraft of helicopter blades. The dreams are in color but they contain no sound, not of drowned voices in the river or the explosions under the hooches in the village we burned or the thropping of the Jolly Green and the gunships coming low and flat across the canopy, like insects pasted against a molten sun.

In the dream I lie on a poncho liner, dehydrated with blood expander, my upper thigh and side torn by wounds that could have been put there by wolves. I am convinced I will die unless I receive plasma back at battalion aid. Next to me lies a Negro corporal, wearing only his trousers and boots, his skin coal-black, his torso split open like a gaping red zipper from his armpit down to his groin, the damage to his body so grievous, traumatic, and terrible to see or touch he doesn't understand what has happened to him.

"I got the spins, Loot. How I look?" he says.

"We've got the million-dollar ticket, Doo-doo. We're Freedom Bird bound," I reply.

His face is crisscrossed with sweat, his mouth as glossy and bright as freshly applied lipstick when he tries to smile.

The Jolly Green loads up and lifts off, with Doo-doo and twelve other wounded on board. I stare upward at its strange rectangular shape, its blades whirling against a lavender sky, and secretly I resent the fact that I and others are left behind to wait on the slick and the chance that serious numbers of NVA are coming through the grass. Then I witness the most bizarre and cruel and seemingly unfair event of my entire life.

As the Jolly Green climbs above the river and turns toward the China Sea, a solitary RPG streaks at a forty-five-degree angle from the canopy below and explodes inside the bay. The ship shudders once and cracks in half, its fuel tanks blooming into an enormous orange fireball. The wounded on board are coated with flame as they plummet downward toward the water.

Their lives are taken incrementally - by flying shrapnel and bullets, by liquid flame on their skin, and by drowning in a river. In effect, they are forced to die three times. A medieval torturer could not have devised a more diabolic fate.

When I wake from the dream, I have to sit for a long time on the side of the bed, my arms clenched across my chest, as though I've caught a chill or the malarial mosquito is once again having its way with my metabolism. I assure myself that the dream is only a dream, that if it were real I would have heard sounds and not simply seen images that are the stuff of history now and are not considered of interest by those who are determined to re-create them.

I also tell myself that the past is a decaying memory and that I do not have to relive and empower it unless I choose to do so. As a recovering drunk, I know I cannot allow myself the luxury of resenting my government for lying to a whole generation of young men and women who believed they were serving a noble cause. Nor can I resent those who treated us as oddities if not pariahs when we returned home.

When I go back to sleep, I once again tell myself I will never again have to witness the wide-scale suffering of innocent civilians, nor the betrayal and abandonment of our countrymen when they need us most.

But that was before Katrina. That was before a storm with greater impact than the bomb blast that struck Hiroshima peeled the face off southern Louisiana. That was before one of the most beautiful cities in the Western Hemisphere was killed three times, and not just by the forces of nature.

Copyright © 2007 by James Lee Burke

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Meet the Author

James Lee Burke, a rare winner of two Edgar Awards, and named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, is the author of twenty-nine previous novels and two collections of short stories, including such New York Times bestsellers as The Glass Rainbow, Swan Peak, The Tin Roof Blowdown, Last Car to Elysian Fields and Rain Gods. He lives in Missoula, Montana.

Will Patton's numerous film credits include Remember the Titans, The Punisher, The Mothman Prophesies, Armageddon, and The Spitfire Grill. He starred in the TNT miniseries Into the West and on the CBS series The Agency, and won Obie Awards in the theater for his performances in Fool for Love and What Did He See.

Brief Biography

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

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Tin Roof Blowdown (Dave Robicheaux Series #16) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
Blackhorse More than 1 year ago
As usual, Burke's characters are in perfect form; more so because the story unfolds in their home setting of New Orleans. The plot is complicated and leads the reader to an unexpected ending. If you are new to Burke, you will find it a little more graphic depiction of murder, crime and the lives of two very unusual lead characters. The treat in this story is the realistic depiction of the condition of New Orleans and the absolute poverty and misery of the City's inhabitants following the destructive results of Katrina. Great Read!
AtoZNY More than 1 year ago
Every time I read the latest Burke opus, I say "it's the best he's done" but with each new one, like vintage wine, Burke just gets better! Based on TV accounts and other writings I've seen, Burke's account of Katerina and its aftermath is as good as any and better than most! I fully recommend this one.
HeidiDew More than 1 year ago
James Lee Burke fans will love following Dave Robicheaux through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Who better than Burke to walk us through the idiosyncrasies of New Orleans and that city's dealings with the insurance industry?
arkie23 More than 1 year ago
Good characters and was a good fictional account of Katrina events.
pellen More than 1 year ago
We love this series and are listening to or reading them all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book provides a realistice feel of New Orleans and Louisiana following Katrina. It is great reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think the book was thrilling.It was really kepping a grasp on me.Although it took me a while to get in to it... it turned out very interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a burly, well-written book, and a welcome addition to the Robicheaux series. It persuasively and compassionately depicts the terrifying situation in NOLA following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Difficult issues such as racism are handled with sensitivity. Characters are distinctive and colorfully portrayed with minimal verbiage. Rewarding reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read all of James Lee Burke's novels including his earlier novels which didn't attract much attention. The constant in everything of his I've read is his commitment to his craft and his reader. Unlike many of the currently sucessful 'series authors', Burke doesn't take shortcuts with characters, settings and especially not with dialogue. Each one of his books, whether a Dave Robechaux story, a Billy Bob Holland story, or a free standing story will stand on it's own without it being necessary to have read earlier installments. James Lee Burke never shortchanges his readers!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once again, Mr. Burke has set his mystery in the steamy bayous of southern Louisiana. This time the chaos and despair following Hurricane Katrina are the backdrop for theft and murder. The characters are intensely portrayed, and the author manages to evoke sympathy for even the lowest of the low who show the possibility of redemption. And thank heavens the women in Detective Robicheaux's life are strong and assertive, and not a one of them needs to count on a man to rescue her! I kind of suspected what the 'lights' beneath the floodwaters might mean, and had confirmation in the powerful and mystical final passages of the book. A incredibly moving novel of the good, the evil, and the soul-damaged, by an author at the peak of his game.
robertpe More than 1 year ago
Good story but all the local lingo throws off the story for me. I had to re read some parts to try and understand some of the dialog.
Nik43 More than 1 year ago
This was the first Burke book I've read. A family member recommended I include it in my reading leading up to my first ever visit to New Orleans that's on the drawing board. Great story that I enjoyed on several levels. Not only do I now have a feeling for post-Katrina New Orleans, but I appreciated the numerous subtle lessons about life that Mr. Burke wraps in a rough & tumble story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
loved this book lovely descriptions of the Louisiana culture ans countryside story was very captivating
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first James Lee Burke noverl. Now I've read all of them. What a wordsmith! What a storyteller! Give us more!
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LoveSeaStories More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was a real page turner. The story was also a chronicle of what Katrina did to New Orleans, South Louisiana, and the suffering brought on to the people who experienced that terrible storm. It was especially real in describing how it changed their lives dramatically. This is a well written story and Mr. Burke opinions of the handling of the storm's impact are obvious; both in the narrative and in the prologue. Familiar characters and their personalities, and Dave's family are deeply involved in this fast action novel. Overall, this story will keep you involved right up to its surprising climax.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago