The Tin Roof Blowdown (Dave Robicheaux Series #16)by James Lee Burke
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/i>/b>
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.
The Washington Post
The New York Times Book Review
The New York Times
The pain, dismay and anger brought on by the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina explodes from the pages of this new Dave Robicheaux novel. For nearly a quarter of a century, Burke has used this series, despite their dark subject matter, to show his obvious love of the land, the people and the cultures of the South and specifically New Orleans. There is a mystery for Robicheaux to solve, but it's the destruction of Burke's beloved New Orleans that resonates like thunder throughout the book. Will Patton, who has come to embody the heart and soul of Burke's weary, Southern knight, matches the author's prose in all its intensity and pain. Adept as he is at portraying the eccentric, the evil and the endearing characters found in Burke's books, it is the actor's reading of Burke's descriptive passages, whether it be a storm forming off the Louisiana coast or the shock of blood escaping from a gunshot wound, that creates a fully realized world for the listener. Patton's insightful interpretation of Burke's darkly expressive imagery makes for a rich literary experience rarely achieved in crime fiction today. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover (Reviews, May 21). (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
In his many years of service with the New Orleans police department and the New Iberia sheriff's department, Dave Robicheaux has faced evil and danger in its many forms. But his life is about to change as New Orleans-"the city that care forgot"-is about to fall victim to a catastrophe that will dwarf all the ills that have previously beset it. As Hurricane Katrina sweeps into the city, residents who were not able to flee can't begin to know that even worse destruction will occur when the levees fail. With the city in chaos, law enforcement officers from New Iberia are called in to help restore a semblance of order. As Dave gets pulled into the turmoil, his wife and daughter are about to face their darkest hour. This is one of Burke's best and will keep listeners enthralled. Will Patton's performance makes the author's prose sing. This book is essential for all libraries, as Burke has captured in eloquent fiction an event that allowed us to see "an American city turned into Baghdad." Highly recommended.
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
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 more than thirty previous novels and two collections of short stories, including such New York Times bestsellers as Light of the World, Creole Belle, Swan Peak, The Tin Roof Blowdown, and Feast Day of Fools. He lives in Missoula, Montana.
- 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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