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Publisher's Summary

Dave Robicheaux has spent his life confronting the age-old adage that the sins of the father pass on to the son. But what was his mother's legacy? Dead to him since his youth, Mae Guillory has been shuttered away in the deep recesses of Robicheaux's mind. He's lived with the fact that he would never really know what happened to the woman who left him to the devices of a whiskey-driven father. But deep down, Dave still feels the loss of his mother and knows that the infinite series of disappointments in her life could not have come to a good end.
While helping out an old friend, Dave is stunned when a pimp looks at him sideways and asks if he is the son of Mae Guillory, the whore a bunch of cops murdered 30 years ago. Her body was dumped in the bayou bordering Purple Cane Road, and the cops who left her there are still on the job.
Dave's search for his mother's killers leads him to the darker places in his past, and solving this case teaches him what it means to be his mother's son. Purple Cane Road has the dimensions of a classic - passion, murder, and nearly heartbreaking poignancy - wrapped in a wonderfully executed plot that surprises from start to finish.
©2000 James Lee Burke (P)2012 Simon & Schuster Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Pamela on 08-17-13

Too bad about narration

I've read all Burke's Robicheaux books so far, and in order. First: narration. Will Patton read the first two, then Mark Hammer took over. At first I didn't like Hammer after the nearly pitch-perfect Patton, but by the 4th book, I realized how good he was. The one thing that makes Hammer not work for me, however, is that there is no getting around the fact that he sounds too old for Robicheaux. And for the women who are hard to distinguish from the men. Now we have Nick Sullivan. He has a pleasant voice and I'm sure he does well on other books, but he is not the reader for this series. And really, how is it our Dave the Cajun, Bootsie, Alafair and Clete don't have ANY accents, but everyone Else has some kind of southern-ish accent? I'm looking forward to Mark Hammer again, and then yes! Will Patton.

As for the books themselves, they deserve a very close listen. I needed something easy but good to 'read' while working on this fixer-upper we have. I'd heard about Burke for years, so I started with Neon Rain--not at all my favorite. But I kept going. And soon came to realize how much texture and complexity is in each book and how VERY much I enjoyed the little background and contextual jewels which are such great insights into the Bayou/Southern culture. Burke has a remarkable touch with this technique of building a story. Even though he could have used a better editor on this series (too much "protean", "fecund", "ceramic or porcelain", "gibbous", "come/came a borning", and skin-around-eyes-tightening, et al), I never got tired of listening to the rich, descriptive prose--especially as a context for the tightly wound, taciturn protagonist. I also love the moments of humor tucked so subtly into the writing.

There are other flaws. Any male worth his salt in this series is a Vietnam Vet, sometimes the "damaged warrior" gets a bit overdone, there has not been one female role so far which excited me, and sometimes I want to slap Dave upside the head. Last criticism. Using Dave as first person narrator puts the intricate descriptions of events occurring out of his presence into some question, but in the end it's not bothersome. None of these issues seem to impede my enjoyment of the series, thoroughly liberal feminist though I am.

One thing I found very interesting...the time frame. I don't know if it's because of the author's age which pretty much coincides with his hero's, or if it's because in some ways the South is just that much stuck in it's past, and though the time period is obvious from information in the books, I often feel sucked back into the '50's. I am looking forward to the rest of the series, and then a re-read or two down the road.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By DAS on 05-18-13

Great Story - WRONG Narrator

How did the narrator detract from the book?

This narrator did not relate to the characters being read. AT.ALL. The narration is rushed and has none of the cadence or personality of the southern Louisiana dialect. It greatly distracted from one of the best stories in the series. My brain kept trying to disconnect from the reading.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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