Creole Belle

Creole Belle
by James Lee Burke
2012 – 544 pages
read by Will Patton – 18h 11m
rating – 8 /  Patton rating – 10

This is Burke’s 19th novel about detective Dave Robicheaux,  New Orleans area detective in a very gritty underworld.   As beautifully as Burke writes,  and as lush as the setting,  that’s how really horrific the criminal element gets.   This is the stuff of devils and angels – Burke writes like an angel (think Faulkner) about the stuff of demons. The novels, as they’ve unfolded have gotten more and more gritty and maybe Burke’s word-smithing has lost something for it – it’s not as fresh anyway,  and a bit more expansively preachy (although I’m certainly in agreement).

In Creole Belle sober alcoholic Robicheaux and his side-kick,  the still hard drinking Cletus Purcel,  unwind a tangled tale of oil-rig shenanigans,  missing jazz singers,  drug addiction, forced prostitution.  And the ghosts of the old slaves,  family,  Vietnam,  even El Salvador hover over all.   It’s the stuff of straight Burke/Robicheaux.

I’m not going to reveal the plot because in terms of the relationships which permeate any serial detective story this would likely entail some serious spoilers but I will say that Clete finds a daughter he never knew he had – and this may not be good news.

Dave and Clete seem to be getting older here – they reminisce and their encounters are with some old foes – the Dupree family from The Glass Rainbow – and wider in scope with the oil disaster after Katrina.   I suppose the series will end with book 20 – next time.  😦

Burke’s web-site 

Wikipedia info 

 Interview at Christian Science Monitor 

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