The rape and murder of a high school girl opens still another doorway back into the doomy past of Dave Robicheaux’s New Iberia Parish.
Prints on the scene lead Dave to Tee Bobby Hulin, gifted musician and hardcase. But Dave is convinced almost despite Tee Bobby’s denials that he didn’t shoot Amanda Boudreau, even when the murder of a prostitute points to him as well. Since the second victim is the daughter of mobbed-up Joe Zeroski, fireworks are guaranteed. And since Tee Bobby’s attorney, true-crime writer Perry LaSalle, is the grandson of plantation owner Julian LaSalle—who very likely had time to get Tee Bobby’s grandmother pregnant before he killed himself soon after his house burned down with his ailing wife inside—ghosts from Louisiana’s past are bound to be haunting every sordid new revelation. Those revelations will implicate Tee Bobby’s manager, mulatto ex-boxer Jimmy Lee Styles; smiling Bible salesman Marvin Oates; and New York freelance writer William O’Reilly, shot to death 35 years ago. But none of these soiled creatures is as dangerous as Legion Guidry, the one-time LaSalle plantation overseer who’s Burke’s latest version of evil incarnate—unless it’s Dave himself, who finds that his life-or-death struggle with the devilish Legion has unleashed demons in himself that are antagonizing his wife Bootsie, his daughter Alafair, and his old friend Clete Purcell. Given enough felonies at hand to pin on every lowlife in the parish, the main question here is whether Dave can curb his thirst for summary justice long enough to wait for the other kind to kick in.
The volcanic types Dave’s saga (Purple Cane Road, 2000, etc.) has made familiar are muffled this time out, and the plotting is even more darkly tangled than usual. Yet Burke succeeds over and over again in writing harshly lacerating scenes nobody’s ever written before—not even him.