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Two tops in their fields bring their A-game to this production and the result of this perfect union is Creole Belle. Burke is so highly regarded in the literary world that any praise seems redundant and almost cliche; if you've read his works, you know this already. One critic said that "nobody can touch Burke in lyrical expression..." Will Patton, with his smart interpretation skills, is one of the best narrators in the business. With a voice rich in texture and hypnotic appeal, he enhances everything I've heard him read. The two of them together are a match made in audible heaven. I could listen to this collaboration and be lost in words and voice - almost forget to hear the story if it wasn't so explosive.
I'm assuming that readers of this 19th in the Robicheaux series know the basics. This book picks up at The Glass Rainbow's conclusion, and begins a new adventure for the well-seasoned team of Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel. A darker and more complex plot than previous books, involving drug runners, human trafficking, art forgery, Nazi war criminals, the Gulf oil *spill,* and as always...a cast of characters as wonderful as their names, and the ruination of Robicheaux's beloved Louisiana wetlands. (With some fascinating, and alarming, insights in to oil rigs - Burke himself having worked on oil rigs in the gulf). Burke has stated that Dave and Clete are "actually one character; they are opposite sides of the same coin," and this time he focuses more sharply on Clete, revealing the differences, and the similarities, in this duo. He also writes more about the forces that shaped the characters in this novel. Creole Belle is comfortably familiar, but not a re-telling of the same story, and Burke somehow manages to add new dimensionality to this already dynamic team with each book.
[* an aside for anyone that might be thinking 19th?! Why jump in now?: Like many book-series, these books can be picked up at any point and enjoyed. Burke often includes backstories; some avid followers might accuse him of repeating portions of previous books, but this practice makes it possible for each novel to be read as its own story. It's more a *pleasurable advantage* to grow-up with the characters, than a *necessity*. I have read several, but not all of the previous 19 novels.]
Some readers say that Burke tends to be too poetic or reflective, that he ruminates and reminisces...my opinion (call me antiquarian)...I love listening to anything he has to say! Burke's poetic style and beautiful atmospheric writing is magical and mesmerizing to me. Just listening to Will Patton read James Lee Burke - I am captivated each time. Highly recommend.
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James Lee Burke created Dave Robicheaux 25 years ago, in The Neon Rain, in 1987. Burke is a brilliant writer. His ability to describe the place of his birth, Southern Louisiana, is unparalleled. New Orleans and Iberia Parish are places that you want to visit, because Mr. Burke has captured them so vividly. Likewise, Dave Robicheaux is such a vivid creation that you almost believe he is flesh and blood. Dave and his best friend, Clete Purcel, have suffered in their lives, the rages of alcoholism and Viet Nam, among other curses. Dave has married twice and has adopted Alafair, in a rescue scene so extraordinary that I remember it clearly, almost a decade later. Alafair Burke is now a novelist herself, in the real world. These books are full of violence and thoughtfulness, scholarly reasoning and deep moral convictions. In this book the bad guys are horrendous, a family named Duprix, wealthy and sinister, an incestuous grandfather at the top, a man who was also a highly-placed Nazi at one of the death camps. The reading is not for the faint of heart or stomach, but it is brilliant for all of that. Will Patton is perfect for these books. His voices are of extraordinary range and expressiveness. Male or female, his characters speak with astonishingly human voices and a range of emotions that rival those of the best narrators. I began reading Dave Robicheaux books 25 years ago, and I hope to keep reading them for a long time. James Lee Burke has lost none of his unique talent, and it is a pleasure for me to be able to recommend his work to you. It is thrilling.
41 of 43 people found this review helpful