Great news for readers who feared that Burke had left Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Robicheaux dying at the end of The Glass Rainbow (2010); Dave and his old friend Clete Purcel are back for an even more heaven-storming round of homicide, New Orleans–style.
No one else sees or hears Cajun singer Tee Jolie Melton when she appears to Dave in the dead of night and leaves behind the gift of an iPad whose playlist includes three of her songs nobody else can find. Maybe Dave’s drug-fevered brain has only imagined her appearance. But there’s no question about what’s become of Tee Jolie’s sister Blue, who washes ashore encased in a bathtub-sized block of ice, dead of a heroin overdose, a note she’s hidden in her mouth announcing, “My sister is alive.” Dave and Clete are swiftly pulled into the disappearance of the two sisters by Bix Golightly, who demands $30,000 from Clete for a 20-year-old gambling marker he bought from gangster Frankie Giacano. Bad move. In short order, Bix, his hired muscle Waylon Grimes and Frankie are all murdered. In fact, Clete actually sees Bix’s executioner, a contract killer code-named Caruso, who, he tells Dave, is actually Gretchen Horowitz, the illegitimate daughter who never knew her father. Clete’s unwanted knowledge of Gretchen’s guilt strains her growing friendship with both Clete and Dave’s daughter Alafair. Balancing the latest chapter of his heroes’ struggles to do the right thing is Burke’s unsparing anatomy of the monstrous Dupree family: Pierre, who owns an ad agency; his estranged wife Varina, Clete’s ex-lover; and Pierre’s grandfather, Alexis, a concentration camp survivor.
As if all the complications aren’t enough, Burke, in his latest attempt to outdo himself, ties the Gulf oil spill to art fraud, sexual slavery and Nazis. A darkly magnificent treat for Dave’s legion of admirers, though not the best place for newcomers to begin.