The Tin Roof Blowdown (Dave Robicheaux Series #16)

The Tin Roof Blowdown (Dave Robicheaux Series #16)

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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 when 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 and 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 defines the 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743567510
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 07/17/2007
Series: Dave Robicheaux Series , #16
Edition description: Unabridged, 11 CDs, 12 hours
Pages: 14
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.70(d)

About 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.


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

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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Tin Roof Blowdown (Dave Robicheaux Series #16) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 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.
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.
mikedraper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hurricane Katrina smashes into New Orleans with the "...explosive force several times greater than that of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945."The tidal surge explodes the levee system and devastates much of New Orleans. Hardest hit of all is the Ninth Ward, an area occupied by many of the poor members of the city.People filled the roads in their automobiles to escape the storm and authorities told those left behind to come to the Convention Center. However, there were no services there. Bodies were left outside, toilets didn't work, there was little food or water and the suffering was extreme.Looting began and one group of looters included four black men who broke into a number of homes that had withstood the storm. One of homes belonged to one of New Orleans most notorious gangsters, Sidney Kovick. The looters took money, drugs, a gun and diamonds that had been hidden behind the walls.Three of these looters were meth dealers and rapists. While they were looting, other men formed vigilante groups to protect their homes. Outside Otis Baylor's home, his daughter recognized two of the looters as the men who had raped her.When one of the looters lights a flame, a shot comes from the dark, killing one of the looters and crippling another.This tremendous novel details the heartakes and demolishing of New Orleans after Katrina and a second hurricane that struck shortly after Katrina. The reader experiences the feeling of the residents about their desolation and frustration as we follow the hunt for the other two thieves by the people who want to regain what had been stolen.Dave Robicheaux becomes involved and shares our sorrow about the circumstances. The action includes his daughter, Alafair and his friend, Clete Purcell.This is a can't put down book whose story will enthrall and haunt the reader.
loveseabooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Will keep you Involved till the conclusion. 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.
Darrol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux is one of , if not the best sustained crime fiction series in American literature. This is a very satisfying tribute to New Orleans, post-Katrina. Burke's attitude towards the criminal element in society avoids (for the most part) the Manichean dualisms that some other very good series express. Not to mention, that Burke, in Robicheaux's voice, says some of the most complimentary things I have read in literature about reference librarians.
jrtanworth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read several Dave Robicheaux books. The strength of this one are the description of the Katrina caused desolation of New Orleans and the surrounding areas, and the chaos that ensued for people living there. The weakest part is the description of the some of the criminals: one, a looter, murderer, and serial rapist turns to selfless acts of redemption; a second, a big time gangster with a feasome reputation turns out to be not a bad guy after all. Just not believable.
BudBarclay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic novel by Burke, clearly one of his best. The backdrop of Horricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans added a passion to his prose. Dave Robicheaux continues to be one of the most interesting and enigmatic protagonists in detective fiction.
wildbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is James Lee Burke's eulogy for the city of New Orleans destroyed by hurricane Katrina aided by the sloth,greed and corruption of many people from George W. Bush on down. The human tragedy of Katrina is a significant part of the story. It appears everywhere in the book and provides a scene that recurs throughout the story. Jude LeBlanc, a priest who is afraid to give communion because his hands shake from heroin addiction, is killed on the roof of a church attempting to rescue people trapped inside. Everyone connected with the scene reports glimmering lights in the water that is rising inside the church. LeBlanc's fate and the glimmering lights haunt the story in ways true to Burke's style.. What I really enjoyed in this serving of the Dave Robicheaux saga were the characters. The characters in this book go against the grain of stereotype. The most tormented character in the book is Bernard Melancon a young black man who has participated in two violent gang rapes. A portion of the story comes from his voice telling of his constant inner torture firsthand. His reading of a handwritten apology for his wrongs to the stepmother of one of his victims is the ultimate cry for help rejected by a shallow evil women completely lacking in Bernard's honesty. The women are some of the strongest characters. We meet the adult Alafair who hates being called "Alf". Her ongoing struggle with the villain was for me the emotional center of the book. Molly breaks new boundaries insisting on a fuller identity than Dave Robicheaux's wife. Burke through Robicheaux shows a refreshing ability to accept the fact that women are persons in their own right. The star of the book is the villain. He speaks in a soft voice and is courteous to a fault, a sexual psychopath who early in the book picks Alafair for a victim. He frustrates all attempts at identification until a reference librarian lifts the veil he hides behind. The final confrontation between Alafair and Ronald Bledsoe is worth the price of the book. Behind Bledsoe are the representatives of money and power using him to seek more.The end of the book finds New Orleans permanently diminished, no longer the Big Sleazy. Power and money are still in the saddle unharmed by the slings and arrows of that which is good. Bernard Melanconon makes his own ending finding the glimmering lights in the water.
tinkerbellkk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting book set in the aftermath of Katrina. Kind of dark and depressing given the surroundings and the characters.
sleahey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Robicheaux is assigned to New Orleans duty after Katrina, and becomes embroiled in a network of crimes involving rape, murder, theft, international smuggling, counterfeit bills, torture,and stalking of his own family. Between the absolutely grim scenes of Katrina's aftermath, the grisly violence of the crimes committed, and pervasive man's inhumanity to ma--this was not an easy listen. As a matter of fact, it made the daily news seem sanitized.
jclyde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a highly satisfying read, particularly for fans of New Orleans and the mystery genre. I enjoyed the way Burke created really despicable villains and then thoroughly destroyed them piece by piece. I¿m also fascinated by post-apocalyptic books, so I found Burke¿s detailed descriptions of the aftereffects of Katrina on the city highly compelling. I got through this meaty read in less than two days ¿ my favorite novel since The Lincoln Lawyer.
MarthaHuntley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is a lot of violence and heartbreak in this novel. The characters rise and fall in the churn of the deep waters of the soul as well as of the hurricane's aftermath. There is also a good bit of Theology; the whole book is about spiritual warfare expressed through human viole heroism, and endurance.
Tasker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I should have written my comments immediately but I didn't; it's a Robicheaux novels with the regulars back; Mr. Burke offers observations regarding the tragic conditions immediately following Katrina which reminds me that politicians are all noise and no action - three trillion dollar budget and, two years later, the area's still a place that, for the most part, is unihabitable. Well, enough of my soapbox.
knittingfreak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first James Lee Burke book that I've read, and I read this one because it was chosen for my face to face book club. I was pleasantly surprised with this read. I'm not sure what I expected, but I figured I would read it and forget it. I'm not sure how much this book is like Burke's other work. If you're a fan, please let me know. The book is part of his Dave Robicheaux series, which is set in New Orleans. The setting itself is really another character in the story. Burke spends a great deal of time detailing the surroundings, which I adored. I love to gain a sense of place while reading, especially when it's somewhere I've never been. As you might expect, there are descriptions of lovely tree-lined streets and sunsets over the water. As beautiful as many of these scenes are, there are equal numbers of disturbing scenes. You see, this book is set in New Orleans immediately before and after Hurricane Katrina. So, many of the descriptions are heartbreaking."The entire city, within one night, had been reduced to the technological level of the Middle Ages. But as we crossed under the elevated highway and headed toward the Convention Center, I saw one image that will never leave me and that will always remain emblematic of my experience in New Orleans . . . The body of a fat black man was bobbing face down against a piling. His dress clothes were puffed with air, his arms floating straight out from his sides. A dirty skim of yellow froth from our wake washed over his head. His body would remain there for at least three days."Burke is from Louisiana, and you really get a sense of the loss and anger that he feels about what happened following Katrina. The ineptitude and mismanagement of numerous state and federal agencies contributed to the deaths of so many. It is also obvious to the reader that Burke believes much of what happened following Katrina was fueled by racism.The book is ultimately a detective story with the flawed hero. The bad guys are a little more complex than the stereotypical criminals. One in particular, Bertrand Melancon, evokes pity for the situation he finds himself in. He has made some really bad choices, but he hasn't had many opportunities in life, either. No, that doesn't justify what he's done, but it does allow you to see possibly why he's the way he is. Overall, I enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone who enjoys this genre.
blueslibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the southern Louisiana coastline in 2005, they left horror and destruction in their wake. Burke is a native and he writes of the storm's aftermath with great emotion. Detective Dave Robicheaux has to deal with multiple problems to deal with in the aftermath of the storm. A looter is murdered and another gravely injured while robbing the house of a local crime lord. A mysterious stranger arrives in town threatening Robicheaux's family, as he struggles to find a friend lost in the storm. The narrative is nearly overwhelmed by the heartbreaking descriptions of New Orleans in the wake of the storms. Burke's writing is evocative and emotional - the book is a dark night of the soul but deserves to be read.
idiotgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Listened as an audiobook. Set in New Orleans before and after Katrina. A pretty intricate plot. But I enjoyed the story.
LittleRedWagon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Listened to this book on audio. Will Patton was the reader. Wonderful.The story is told with such vitality and right on descriptions, that it made me cry.It didn't hurt that the plot was a definite "pull you in until the end" one. My husband and I would find reasons to go somewhere in the car so we could listen to this wonderful tale of Katrina ravaged NO.
smik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
New Iberia, the home of both author James Lee Burke, and his detective Dave Robicheaux, is just 200 km west of New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans at the end of August 2005, then people from lesser affected New Iberia were amongst the first on the scene.Burke obviously feels very strongly about what happened to New Orleans both as a consequence of the hurricane, but also the human and physical degradation that he witnessed. He says New Orleans was a song that went under the waves... Category 5 hurricanes don't take prisoners... New Orleans was systematically destroyed and that destruction begin in the early 1980s.. one of the most beautiful cities in the Western Hemisphere was killed three times, and not just by the forces of nature.It is against the background of what happened during and after hurricane Katrina that Burke sets THE TIN ROOF BLOW DOWN. The opening chapters introduce characters who run like threads through the rest of the book: Catholic priest Jude LeBlanc dying from cancer and a drug addict; Otis Baylor an insurance agent who loves his job and whose daughter Thelma has been raped by some black youths; Tom Claggart, Otis' neighbour, an export-import man; Clete Purcel, Dave Robicheaux's partner hunting for bail skips and drug pushers; the Melancon brothers and Andre Rochon, low life flotsam of New Orleans, connected to and symbolic of an underworld that thrives.As Hurricane Katrina advances on New Orleans, those who can take heed official warnings and evacuate or move into public buildings such as churches, the Convention Center and the Superdome. Those who can't are at the mercy of the rising waters from the tidal surge. And the low life turn to looting. The streets in every town in south west Louisiana become clogged with evacuation traffic seeking temporary shelter. No-one is prepared for the destructive force, five times greater than the bomb that hit Hiroshima, that strikes New Orleans.Dave Robicheaux begins to search for his friend Jude Le Blanc who appears to have disappeared while assisting people trapped in the attic of St. Mary Magdalene in the Lower Nine. Otis Baylor lives in uptown New Orleans and although his street is flooded, his house is on higher ground and is powered by its own generators. Four young black men in a boat are systematically working their way up his street entering the unoccupied houses and looting them. The looters leave and the crisis seems averted. The next day the boat comes back and someone is killed. The Otis Baylor case becomes just one of a number of investigations that Dave and Clete pursue.I did have a problem early in my reading of THE TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN with the amount of information that Burke was pumping out. Even as the plot developed it did make it difficult to distinguish what is now historical fact from crime fiction. The dilemma diminished as I read on, but for the first 100 pages or so I kept thinking of Truman Capote's "fictionalised facts" - hence yesterday's blog posting.My main problem probably stemmed from the fact that I haven't read all the Dave Robicheaux series, in fact very few, so this novel was almost a stand-alone read. While the plot is complete in itself, there is back-story I have missed. A second problem was the consequence of my poor knowledge of US geography: that I didn't have a vision of where New Iberia is in relation to New Orleans.However James Lee Burke has a pretty good job of bridging the story of what he wanted to say about Hurricane Katrina with elements of a thriller. I think perhaps the thriller bit didn't work as well as he wanted, but followers of Dave Robicheaux will no doubt have read of his role in the re-establishment of law and order in post-hurricane New Orleans with interest.I visited New Orleans over 35 years ago and it's sad to think that what I saw then has gone.