HEAVEN'S PRISONERS by James Lee Burke

HEAVEN'S PRISONERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The second of Burke's hot-sauce suspensers featuring Dave Robicheaux, protagonist of The Neon Rain (1987); this one is less frantic, more rooted in a specific (Cajun) culture. Here, Robicheaux has retired as a New Orleans homicide cop to run his own bait and boat-rental business in the Louisiana bayous of his childhood; he is newly (and happily) married to Annie (also out of Neon Rain). Dave has one problem: not alcoholism now (he is on the wagon), but his attraction to that "violent and aberrant world" where he once labored as a "bourbon-scented knight-errant." Opportunity knocks when a small plane carrying both Salvadoran illegals and a narcotics transporter crashes into the Gulf. Four of the passengers drown; the fifth, a little girl he calls Alafair, Dave rescues. She proves a boon to the childless Robicheaux marriage, but Dave's other trophy from the wreckage, an incriminating swizzle-stick wrapper, is a disaster, for it leads him back to the pursuit of lowlifes. Against his better judgment, and ignoring Annie's warning, Dave is soon tangling with drug-importer Bubba Rocque and his emissaries, and Annie is shot to death. Dave starts drinking again, then (implausibly) persuades the sheriff to hire him as detective. Eventually Dave tracks down and shoots Annie's killer to death in an exciting climax above a New Orleans laundry. Then Dave has the satisfaction of arresting the person who probably ordered Annie's execution, the lesbian wife of Bubba Rocque, after she has cut Bubba's throat with a cane knife. Despite careless plotting (constant but unresolved allusions to malfeasance by US Immigration), there is enough colorful action to keep readers turning the pages; but there is also altogether too much introspection by the self-hating, drowning-in-guilt Robicheaux. This talented writer could use a third-person narrator to keep the humorless Robicheaux in his place.
Pub Date: April 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0743449193
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1988




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