Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Black Cherry Blues, by James Lee Burke

Black Cherry Blues, by James Lee Burke

Dave Robicheaux is an alcoholic southern ex-cop; one of those characters that is good at everything but has a tortured soul. He gets framed for a murder in Louisiana yet while on bail manages to get to Montana where he brazenly challenges a mobster he believes is responsible. I pictured him as a cajun Dirty Harry, albeit somewhat shorter for some reason. The movie Heaven’s Prisoners (based on a different novel in the series) starred Alec Baldwin as Robicheaux which doesn’t fit my mental image at all; perhaps that is why the only thing I remember is Teri Hatcher!

The plot is thin and the characters shallow, but the descriptions of mood and setting were almost lyrical. “Then a bank of thunderheads slid across the sky from the Gulf, tumbling across the sun like cannon smoke, and the light gathered in the oaks and cypress and willow trees and took on a strange green cast as though you were looking at the world through water.” I love writing that shows the reader a sense of color and texture as well as the setting, and Burke gives that in spades. While Robicheaux is no Spenser, I expect I’ll be reading more of him in the future.

First Sentence:
Her hair is curly and gold on the pillow, her skin white in the heat lightning that trembles beyond the pecan trees outside the bedroom window.

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