BLACK CHERRY BLUES by James Lee Burke

BLACK CHERRY BLUES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Case #3 for alcoholic Cajun ex-cop Dave Robicheaux (The Neon Rain, Heaven's Prisoners) sends him and his adoptive daughter Alafair to Montana on a quest for the usual justice and revenge. Robicheaux is never exactly likable, but you can't help feeling for the guy. While he's still troubled by dreams about his wife Annie, gunned down by dopesters in Heaven's Prisoners, his lowlife old friend Dixie Lee Pugh turns up in New Iberia with a tale about two men killed in Montana over an oil lease. The next thing you know, Dave--whose father has been killed on an oil rig 20 years before--finds himself asking questions about Dalton Vidrine and Harry Mapes, the alleged killers. When his mail brings a particularly nasty threat about daughter Alafair, he goes after Vidrine and Mapes with a tire chain--and next morning he's arrested for Vidrine's murder. Mortgaging his house and bait-shop to post bail, Dave takes off for Montana, looking for evidence that'll spring him from jail and put Mapes inside. What author Burke lacks in subtlety--Dave's investigative technique includes badgering drug-agent Dan Nygurski; rebuffing his old partner Cletus Purcel and (separately) Clete's Indian girlfriend Darlene American Horse; cold-shouldering Alathir's helpful schoolteacher Tess Regan, and insulting and beating mobster Sally Dio in front of his hangers-on--he makes up in a brooding sense of menace: Dave and his friends--not to mention his many enemies--are so violent that you repeatedly expect the worst, and Burke rarely lets you down. When Dave eventually vindicates himself by setting Sally and Mapes against each other, his triumph seems not only implausible but downright miraculous. Though his prose is as overmuscled as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Burke tells an evocative and compelling story of a good man's struggle With the vigilante inside him.
Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1989
ISBN: 0380712040
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1989




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