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Twenty-eight years after NAACP stalwart Ely Dixon was killed, KKK alumnus Aaron Crown's finally convicted of his murder--and that's just the beginning of the trouble in Dave Robicheaux's Iberia Parish (Burning Angel, 1995, etc.). Against all reason, Crown protests his innocence, and the more Dave reads up on the crime, the less it seems to suit Crown's violent, impulsive nature. But standing up for Crown looks more and more like a sucker play when two filmmakers who've gotten interested in the case are murdered, and Dave's congratulated on turning a deaf ear on Crown's pleas by Giacano button man Mingo Bloomberg, who tells him he'll be taken care of for his trouble. Next day, Dave's sounded out about a high-level state police job by Buford LaRose, the plantation scion who's ridden his book on the Dixon murder to an LSU professorship and now has his eyes on the governor's mansion. Just in case he isn't getting the idea, Dave's warned off Crown's case by Jerry Joe Plumb, the flamboyant real-estate player who gets Mingo out of jail; for good measure, he's even attacked at his bait shop by a machete-wielding Mexican. Figuring Plumb must be using Mingo to pay off golden LaRose, Dave can't find the best way to approach the candidate, partly because his pushy wife, Karyn LaRose, is his own former lover. Meantime, Crown escapes, swearing vengeance on Governor LaRose, and Dave finds himself stuck on guard detail for Louisiana's First Family, though he's convinced the LaRoses somehow link Jerry Joe Plumb to Ely Dixon and his pimp/developer brother Jimmy Lee. Even as Dave struggles to put the pieces together, the survivors of a generation's worth of bad blood are still swinging away at each other like blind titans. Lacking the heaven-storming historical metaphors that have dominated Dave's last three cases, this one most recalls A Stained White Radiance (1992). Only Walter Mosley rivals Burke's ability to burrow so deeply into his detective's world that he creates a compelling sense of personal mythology.
Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-7868-6175-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1996


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