THE NEON RAIN by James Lee Burke


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A New Orleans homicide cop confronts arms-smugglers, the Mafia and his own private demons in this bloody, ripsnorting suspenser, the latest offering from Burke (The Convict, The Lost Get-Back Boogie). On a fishing trip in Gataouatche Parish, Lieutenant Dave Robicheaux discovers the floating body of a young black woman. The trail leads to Julio Segura, a Nicaraguan vice king in exile, who is funding the Contras with dope money, and has put out a contract on Dave's lite. Segura is soon blown away by Dave's partner--one of a series of violent spasms that fail to mask the lack of a storyline. The other hoods involved in the arms-smuggling force alcohol down Dave's throat and leave him to die in a burning car. He survives the fire nicely, but doesn't do so well with the police higher-ups, who suspend him without pay, figuring he's boozing again: Dave is an arrested alcoholic, with a tidied marriage and combat service in Vietnam behind him. What prevents his return to an alcoholic hell is Annie Ballard, the sweet, stand-by-your-man Kansas blonde he's collected along the way. Dave still has vigilante work to do, dispatching one of the hoods and (in a development unrelated to the arms-smuggling) taking on the local Mafia chief. But not to worry: invisible hands tidy away the hood's body, the remaining arms-smugglers are brought to justice, and Dave is reinstated. Burke stumbles away from the ramifications of his arms-smuggling story to concentrate on the odyssey of one cop, producing a wildly uneven work in which all that counts, ultimately, is the excitement of the kill (eight characters meet violent ends). But while there is much garish overwriting here, there are also some fine scenes that fairly crackle with menace.
Pub Date: March 27th, 1987
ISBN: 0099689707
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1987


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