A gruesome series of murders drags Dave Robicheaux, of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Department, out of his jurisdiction and onto the track of another harrowing cluster of high crimes and misdemeanors.
The officers in Jeff Davis Parish say all seven victims of a faceless killer were prostitutes. But convict Elmore Latiolais insists that his sister Bernadette, an honors student headed for a nursing scholarship, didn’t fit that pattern. A casual remark by Herman Stanga, the pimp Elmore says tried to kill him, that he’s connected to the charitable St. Jude Project puts Dave (Swan Peak, 2008, etc.) on a collision course with his daughter Alafair’s boyfriend Kermit Abelard, his wealthy, dysfunctional family and his latest protégé, convict-turned-author Robert Weingart. As the bodies pile up, Dave and his old buddy Clete Purcel dig ever deeper into the Abelard family’s tangled roots. They link Kermit’s grandfather Timothy to Vidor Perkins, who spent time up the river with Weingart, and self-made investment tycoon Layton Blanchet, who’s hired Clete to get the goods on his cheating wife Carolyn. All these discoveries bring Dave up against every law-enforcement officer in Louisiana, and they don’t do much for his relationship with his daughter either. If the resulting blend of high finance and gutter sexuality is never very mysterious, it conveys an overwhelming sense of miasmal evil.
Burke, whose sonorous cadences and obsession with the past have often recalled Faulkner, has never resembled the sage of Yoknapatawpha more closely than in this magnificent attempt to get it all down between one cap and one period.