A looting and shooting at the height of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction sucks Dave Robicheaux (Pegasus Descending, 2006, etc.) into New Orleans’s purgatorial ordeal.
After hijacking a boat from a junkie priest who was fighting to rescue a crowd trapped in a church attic by Katrina’s rising waters, bail jumper Andre Rochon, together with his teenaged cousin Kevin and armed-robbery specialists Eddy and Bertrand Melancon, runs into both good fortune and bad. Breaking into florist/gangster Sidney Kovick’s house, the looters find thousands in cash and a trove of blood diamonds. But when they try boosting some gas from insurance agent Otis Baylor, whose traumatized daughter Thelma recognizes them as the men who raped her after her senior prom, a single gunshot leaves one of them dead and another a helpless paraplegic, left to the mercy of the city’s monumentally overburdened hospital system. Seconded from Iberia Parish to help the NOPD cope with the epidemic lawlessness, Robicheaux finds himself tangling with his eye-for-an-eye buddy Clete Purcel, Kovick’s gangland establishment, scary private eye Ronald Bledsoe and the usual quota of femmes fatales and lowlifes.
Apart from the operatically scaled evocation of the hurricane, a shattering portrait Burke was born to create, the most striking creation here is Bertrand Melancon, a lost soul who can’t decide whether he’s an avenger or a penitent.