The Barnes & Noble Review
In Last Car to Elysian Fields, James Lee Burke (Jolie Blon's Bounce, White Doves at Morning) orchestrates the masterful return of volatile New Iberia homicide detective Dave Robicheaux to the lush and grim world of crime in the Big Easy. With vivid, enticing prose, Burke conjures offbeat but wholly believable characters who animate a rich, complex, and enthralling plot.
When Dave and former partner Clete Purcel decide to help out a priest buddy who's been targeted by thugs for defying the Mob, several deadly events and schemes are set in motion. Dave becomes enmeshed with former lover Theodosha LeJeune, whose father was rumored to have been involved in the 50-year-old murder of a black blues singer -- and who now seems to be connected to the DWI deaths of three underage girls. Complicating matters further, a murderer is on the prowl for the people responsible for the girls' deaths.
As in all Burke novels, the strength of Last Car to Elysian Fields lies in its breathtaking, moodily descriptive passages and in scenes that provide a perfect sense of time, place, and character. The evils of the past hold sway over the present in a particularly gut-wrenching way, as Robicheaux finds his life unraveling along with the mysteries around him. Involving, disturbing, and compelling, this novel will pluck at your nerves and refuse to let go.
James Lee Burke is at the top of his game in Last Car to Elysian Fields.
Up to his neck in Louisiana's sociopolitical swamps once again is police detective Dave Robicheaux, the twice violently widowed, no longer hard-drinking, war-ravaged soul who can make cop rule-breaking and even vigilantism look morally right and necessary -- even when any informed reader knows that nearly all rogue cops are no-good thugs.
Homicide detective Dave Robicheaux is pitted against a handsome, urbane war hero of a bad guy instead of the typical obscenely grotesque villain in this latest installment of Burke's stellar series, set in New Iberia, La. It's a shift in adversaries that forces Robicheaux to take a different tack than his usual uncontrolled tilting at the windmills of elusive justice. As in many of Burke's novels (A Stained White Radiance; In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead), current felonies are tied to a crime from the past. Here, Dave's friend Father Jimmie Dolan is being stalked by Irish hit man Max Coll; linked to this intrigue is the story of blues singer Junior Crudup, who entered the hell of Angola Penitentiary in the 1950s and was never heard from again. In present-day New Orleans, three teens die in a fiery crash after buying drinks at a drive-by daiquiri stand. Porn star Gunner Ardoin takes a beating from Dave's sidekick, Clete Purcel, who wreaks his usual havoc. Mysterious lady cop Clotile Arceneaux keeps popping in with advice, and a minor thug, Jumpin' Merchie Flannigan, is married to Robicheaux's old girlfriend Theodosha. These are just a scant few of the characters and subplots that thicken the deep and complex gumbo of Burke's story. The writing is beautiful, as always, laced with the author's signature descriptions: "the sepia-tinted light in the trees and on the bayou seemed to emanate from the earth rather than the sky." This is an outstanding entry in an excellent series. (Sept. 23) Forecast: A multi-city book tour should get the word out and help nudge Burke up a notch on bestseller lists. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Dave Robicheaux has survived several great losses recently: his wife, Bootsie, has died from lupus, and his old home, the one his father built, was destroyed by fire. Now the brutal beating of longtime friend Father Jimmy Dolan takes Robicheaux home to New Orleans, but it isn't the "Big Easy" for him. His good buddy Clete Purcell joins him to hunt the attackers, and our good guys soon find themselves on the wrong side of the law. This book is written with Burke's usual gift for eloquent description and visages of a past that linger in our collective mind's eye. The unabridged version, narrated by Mark Hammer, lacks a little of the lively performance that Will Patton brings to the abridged set. Patton is able to convey the sexy Southern drawl that brings back memories of an older Louisiana. For now, most libraries would be better served with the unabridged program as Burke's many fans won't want to miss a word. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Theresa Connors, Arkansas Tech Univ., Russellville Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
New Iberia homicide detective Dave Robicheaux (Jolie Blon's Bounce, 2002, etc.) battles-what else?-strutting criminals, willing women, long-buried crimes, and his own most violent impulses. Wasting no time on preliminaries, Dave and his old buddy, p.i. Clete Purcel, end the opening scene pummeling one-time porn actor Gunner Ardoin for beating New Orleans priest Jimmie Dolan and are soon facing Gunner's civil suit and his likely innocence. But there are more than enough sleazeballs to go around, from Gunner's mobbed-up boss Fat Sammy Figorelli to waste-management contractor Merchie Flannigan to Merchie's wife, crime-writer Theodosha LeJeune, to Theo's father, spuriously genteel Castille LeJeune, whose 1951 blues recording of imprisoned Junior Crudup is practically the last anybody heard from Junior before he vanished from Angola Prison. Things heat up further with the fatal car crash of Lori Parks, a teenaged veteran of Ecstasy and DWI charges, who bought the daiquiri that pushed her over the line from an obliging boy who worked for Castille LeJeune. Dave, of course, keeps straying outside his jurisdiction to threaten or batter lowlifes, but this time he's bookended by Lori's father, who's determined to avenge her, and by Father Jimmie, dogged by a visiting killer whose moral conflicts bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the priest's own. Give yourself a star if this all sounds awfully familiar, and another if you can remember who killed whom ten minutes after Burke's last glowing page. Author tour