DIXIE CITY JAM by James Lee Burke
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A Nazi U-boat sunk 50 years ago off the Louisiana coast is the catalyst for New Iberia (La.) sheriff's deputy Dave Robicheaux's latest descent into the depths of human nature. Knowing that Dave had found the boat as a boy, drugstore mogul Hippo Bimstine offers him $10,000 to locate it again for salvage. Dave refuses but changes his mind (and ups the price) when he needs money to beat a bum murder rap facing his hired hand, Batist Perry: The rap is being pressed by vindictive New Orleans vice cop Nate Baxter, who is determined to get back at Dave and his PI buddy Clete Purcel. Dave's plan works -- it convinces Nate's hard-nosed black sergeant, Lucinda Bergeron, to give information that puts Batist back on the street -- but at a terrible price: Dave soon finds himself fighting against sinister club owners Max and Bobo Calucci, who want Clete's girlfriend to work out of taxicabs, and Tommy Lonighan, a typically reflective Burke villain (Dave: "I shouldn't have hit him.... He's a tormented man. The guy's got a furnace in his head") who's dying of prostate cancer but refuses to roll over on the Calucci brothers. But Dave's biggest troubles are still ahead: Magnetic neo-Nazi Will Buchalter (called in by Tommy? by the Caluccis?), determined to locate the U-boat ahead of Hippo, terrorizes Dave's wife, Bootsie, kidnaps and tortures Dave, and keeps disappearing into the sunset after executing his accomplices -- all while Max and Bobo are contracting an off-limits kill and Dave's wrestling with Lucinda Bergeron and her main-chance son, Zoot, over the best way to nail the bad guys, avoid selling out, and maybe stay alive. Dave's adventures are usually dominated by a single violent, charismatic heavy. In squeezing Hippo, Tommy, the Caluccis, Will, and Dave himself into one book, Burke cuts himself off from the concentrated power of the masterly In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead (1993) but multiplies the possibilities of cathartic violence -- and produces his darkest, densest novel yet.
Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 1994
ISBN: 0-7868-6019-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1994


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